Link to home

News from the open internet

The Readout

U.S. political ad spend on digital projected to jump 156 percent over last presidential election year

A hand pointing a remote with a beam coming out of it, the beam showing the U.S. Capital building

Illustration by Robyn Phelps / Shutterstock / The Current

Here’s the thing:

Historically, digital platforms have been relegated to a tiny slice of the political-ad-dollar pie. But this U.S. presidential election year is expected to be different. According to a new report from Insider Intelligence, category spending is forecast to jump 156 percent from 2020. The four-year spike may be another indicator of connected TV (CTV) and streaming’s rising influence on today’s fragmented media market.

Data debrief:

Overall, political ad spending is predicted to hit $12.3 billion, a 30 percent increase from the $9.6 billion spent in 2020. While most of that loot will secure traditional TV buys, digital media will claim 28 percent of 2024’s spend, or approximately $3.5 billion, the report shows. That’s nearly triple the amount spent on digital four years ago.

The uptick in digital media spending suggests political campaigns are prioritizing the importance of reaching every voter on every medium. This intention correlates with research shared in a recent political report from The Trade Desk Intelligence and Morning Consult that sheds light on the streaming population’s ballot-box impact. Surveying 2022 voter behavior, the report noted that battleground states in particular saw increased time spent on CTV compared to linear TV in 2022, which likely led to higher levels of awareness compared to traditional TV.

Perhaps even more telling, The Trade Desk Intelligence and Morning Consult’s 2022 election data found a strong relationship between intent to vote and certainty of who and what to vote for, with heavy streamers’ likelihood to vote rising by 6 percent in the week before the election.

Why it matters:

We know Americans are spending more time on digital devices. In fact, Insider Intelligence reports mobile and CTV captured more than three-quarters of U.S. digital time spent in 2023. Couple that with the generational demographics that campaigns are targeting and it’s easy to see why political campaign spending is undergoing a shift. With early election predictions pointing to U.S. races as close, or even closer, to what we witnessed in 2020, the pressure to steer people to the polls — on each channel of every platform — will no doubt be stronger than ever.

Graph titled "The rapid rise of digital political ad spending" showing spend from 2020 to 2024 with the percentage change.

The Current is owned and operated by The Trade Desk, Inc.