CTV Advertising Spending Holds Lessons for Brands

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Basis Technologies provides cloud-based workflow automation and business intelligence software for marketing and advertising. The company focuses on media strategies and outcomes and also has worked with political campaigns and organizations of all sizes. Local and state legislative races and gubernatorial, senate, and national advocacy organizations have used Basis for 15 years, including for 2022 election-spending efforts. Recently, Basis released some data in a report titled “U.S. Elections Digital Advertising Trends,” and concluded that CTV advertising had a bigger impact than ever on political campaigns, particularly the mid-terms.

That’s probably because more political campaigns turned to CTV as a channel. Direct media buying on CTV was up to 35% share of buying tactics mix and boosted programmatic ad impressions and spend on CTV devices by more than 60%, according to the findings.

Basis Technologies compiled the data from more than 1,000 advertisers for the state, local and national races managing digital ad buying on its platform. Campaign advertisers spent upwards of $130 million in ads across display, video, native, search, and social media.

Among the report’s findings:

  • CTV ads were a key reason why video was the overwhelming ad format favorite (68%) based on spending share.
  • Programmatic buying though demand-side platforms (DSPs), though very popular in 2020 campaigns with 63% share of budgets, dipped to 52% in 2022.
  • Direct buying surged to 35% share.
  • Programmatic media saw a 40% rise in average CPMs between January and November 2022 while video-ad CPMs were more steady throughout the year.
  • The top three direct sellers were YouTube, Facebook, and Hulu.
  • New to the top 15 were VideoAmp, Katz Media Group, LG Ads, Nexstar Media Group and NBC Universal.
  • In the 30 days leading up to election day, campaigns spent 50% of digital ad budgets.
  • Michigan garnered the most programmatic ad impressions served through Basis, followed by Wisconsin and California.

“The biggest surprise in our findings was that CPMs, especially video CPMs, did not increase substantially in the fall,” said Jaime Vasil, Group VP, Candidates + Causes, Basis Technologies. “It seems logical that with the dramatically increased volume of spending in October and early November, demand could outweigh supply and drive prices up in biddable media.” She added, “But when we pulled the data, that wasn’t the case: video CPMs only fluctuated up or down by $1.50 in any given month. Fears of the potential scarcity of premium inventory drove many advertisers to secure reserved inventory through direct buys, but those fears may have been overblown.”

Vasil thinks political campaigns are likely to continue to prioritize video messaging, especially CTV, and anticipates even more spend will shift toward CTV in 2024. Streaming audio represents a much smaller, but also growing, channel for the political realm, and the increased scale of audio via programmatic channels may drive further adoption.

There are lessons in these findings for brands, which Basis presented in a webinar on March 29 titled “Beyond the Ballot Box – Using Political Advertising Strategies to Connect To Consumers.” Given the continued shift to CTV spend Basis executives expect brand marketers to realize the need to be agile in accessing inventory as the CTV space evolves rapidly.

Since 2007, Basis Technologies has helped power digital media for over 2,500 political campaigns and independent expenditure committees, and over 2,500 issue advocacy advertisers.

Kathleen Sampey