A Digital Marketers’ Survival Guide for This Election Year

Every year in digital marketing presents unique challenges and trends, but an election year takes the complexity to a whole new level. As the political landscape transforms, the effects ripple across various sectors, including digital advertising.

In this survival guide, we explore the nuances of digital marketing in an election year, specifically focusing on the landscape of 2024. Understanding the impact of elections on digital marketing is crucial for business owners, marketing directors, and chief marketing officers who want to navigate this intricate terrain successfully.

Why Elections Matter in Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is one of the industries that elections and political campaigns directly affect. As technology evolves, political campaigns have increasingly turned toward digital marketing as a primary tool to reach and engage with potential voters.

Experts forecast that this election cycle will amass $10.2 billion in political ad spend, a 13% surge from the 2020 election cycle’s $9 billion spend. Moreover, the 2024 election cycle has seen $307.61 million spent so far, a 152% increase from the $121.77 million spent at this point in the 2020 election cycle. A massive chunk of this spending is on digital ads, highlighting the increasing importance of digital marketing in elections.

Traditional Marketing Vs. Digital Marketing in an Election Year

In previous years, political campaigns heavily relied on traditional marketing tactics such as television, radio, billboards, and print ads. However, with the rise of digital platforms and social media, political campaigns have allocated a significant portion of their focus and budget to digital marketing.

Let’s look at key differences between traditional and digital marketing in an election year and what they mean for businesses.

Audience Targeting
Digital marketing offers a more targeted approach to reaching potential voters, allowing campaigns to tailor their messaging based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. This level of personalization is not possible with traditional marketing methods, making digital marketing a crucial tool in capturing the attention of potential voters.

Non-political advertisers can also benefit from this targeting ability, as they can refine their ads to reach specific audiences and demographics. In an election year, businesses should take advantage of digital marketing’s precise targeting capabilities to reach and engage with potential consumers.

Ad Availability
During an election year, there is an increased demand for ad space. In traditional marketing, this demand can cause broadcast or print mediums to run out of space, making it difficult for campaigns to secure ad spots. However, digital marketing has no limitations, as ads can be placed on various platforms and websites.

This availability during an election year makes digital marketing a more viable option for businesses looking to advertise and reach their target audience without being limited by physical space constraints. Diversifying the digital platforms and advertising channels can help companies stand out among the noise of political ads.

Marketing Costs
Digital marketing is generally more cost-effective than traditional marketing, with the ability to reach a larger audience for a lower cost. However, election years witness a surge in demand for advertising space across both digital and traditional platforms, driving up the cost of ad space. With real-time dynamic pricing, digital platforms manage demand by increasing the cost of ads during peak periods, such as an election year.

While there will always be available space with digital ads, businesses should prepare for increased costs during an election year and strategize accordingly to maximize their marketing budget. Their strategy could include focusing on specific digital platforms or targeting niche audiences to minimize expenses while still reaching a relevant audience.

Searchability and Visibility
Digital marketing offers a unique advantage in terms of searchability and visibility compared to traditional marketing. However, in an election year, political campaigns have a heightened focus on making their candidates and platforms visible to the public. This increased competition for attention can make it more challenging for businesses to stand out in search results.

Businesses should focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that appeals to their target audience. By consistently producing valuable content, leveraging relevant keywords, and optimizing their website, they can improve their SEO ranking and increase visibility in search results.

The Challenge of Political Ad Fatigue
Political ad fatigue sets in as the election cycle progresses, and voters become increasingly immune to political messaging. With the sheer volume of ads they are exposed to daily, it’s no surprise that they start tuning them out.

With political campaigns saturating various media channels, consumers often experience political ad fatigue. This weariness can lead to disengagement and a decreased receptiveness to advertising in general. The phenomenon presents a unique challenge for digital marketers as they must find ways to make their ads stand out amidst all the political noise.

Amidst political ad fatigue, non-political campaigns have an opportunity to stand out. One excellent example is VRBO. The vacation rental has successfully matched its advertising atmosphere to its brand values — comfortable, relaxing, and peaceful. By aligning with positive and uplifting content, brands can position themselves as a refreshing alternative, gaining audience attention in a saturated digital environment.

To combat political ad fatigue, non-political campaigns should focus on creativity and resonance. Crafting campaigns that resonate with values rather than just selling products can make a brand memorable and create a positive association. Leveraging interactive content, storytelling, and emotional appeal can effectively connect with audiences amidst the political noise.

Traditional or Digital Marketing for Non-Political Advertisements?
The rise of digital marketing has not made traditional marketing tactics obsolete. Traditional marketing methods offer a tangible way to reach specific demographics and engage with local audiences. However, digital marketing provides a more flexible and targeted approach to reach a broader audience.

The limited ad space availability and the high costs of traditional marketing during an election year make it a challenging option for businesses. And, while digital marketing may also surge in demand and costs during this time, it still provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to reach their target audience effectively and efficiently.

Businesses can shift their marketing strategies to focus on digital marketing and take advantage of its availability and flexibility. By leveraging targeted campaigns, companies can reach their desired audience without political ads overshadowing them.

Digital marketing utilizes multiple social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok to engage with audiences and create a solid online presence. Additionally, digital marketing employs over-the-top (OTT) platforms, allowing businesses to reach cord-cutters and those primarily consuming content through streaming services.

Ultimately, digital marketing offers many new avenues for advertising in a way that traditional TV does not. Even if digital marketing rates may be higher during an election year, businesses still have the opportunity to reach their target audience and stand out among the noise through creative strategies and a diversified digital approach. The flexibility and measurability of digital marketing also provide valuable insights for businesses to improve their marketing strategies and make data-driven decisions.

Tips and Recommendations for Non-Political Digital Advertisers
While digital marketing in an election year may seem daunting for those running non-political campaigns, there are ways to navigate the challenges and stand out amidst the political clamor.

Be Aware but Not Alarmed
Understanding the fluctuations in digital inventory supply and demand is crucial. Non-political advertisers should be aware of the challenges but remain adaptable. Flexibility is key in navigating the dynamic landscape of an election year — or any year for that matter.

By staying informed and open to new strategies, non-political campaigns can rise above the political commotion and connect with their target audience. So don’t be alarmed — be prepared to make an impact amidst the election frenzy.

Work With Flexible Marketing Partners
Collaborating with marketing partners who offer flexibility across various platforms is essential. Diversifying the advertising strategy and working with partners who provide transparent reporting can help navigate the uncertainties of an election year.

Political campaigns typically turn to Google and Facebook for their digital advertising needs, which can lead to increased competition and saturation on these platforms. However, working with partners with access to alternative inventory sources can provide non-political campaigns with a competitive advantage.

Ensure Message Alignment With Brand-Safe Content
With the increased scrutiny and regulations on political advertising, there is a heightened focus on brand safety. Non-political campaigns should ensure their messaging aligns with brand-safe content to avoid backlash or negative associations.

Contextual Targeting Strategies: Aligning the message with contextually relevant content ensures the campaign resonates positively with the audience.
Avoiding Potentially Polarizing Content: Steering clear of controversial and polarizing topics helps maintain a neutral brand image, especially when political discussions are dominant.
This alignment can help non-political campaigns stand out in a crowded digital space as they position themselves as trusted and reliable brands amidst the political climate.

Leverage Data and Analytics
Data is essential in any marketing campaign but becomes even more critical during high-stakes election years. Non-political campaigns should leverage data and analytics to understand audience behaviors, preferences, and interests. This information can help shape the campaign strategy and target specific demographics that may be less affected by political ad saturation.

By analyzing data and tracking campaign performance, non-political campaigns can make informed decisions and optimize digital marketing efforts. Data-driven insights are crucial to standing out and connecting with target audiences amidst the noise of political advertising.

Final Thoughts
As the 2024 election year unfolds, digital marketers face a landscape filled with challenges and opportunities. Navigating the complexities of increased competition, ad fatigue, and saturation requires a strategic approach. However, by understanding the unique dynamics of election-year marketing, non-political campaigns can not only survive but thrive.

Remember, creativity, adaptability, and a keen awareness of the evolving digital landscape are the keys to success. As we embark on this journey, let’s navigate the election year with resilience and strategic insight, ensuring our campaigns stand out amidst the political noise.


If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving education marketing landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.

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