Queue “Hail to the Chief” and prepare your ad budgets, ladies and gentlemen. It’s officially 2020, which means it’s time to start bracing for an endless stream of political ads coming at us from all angles. Politico anticipates $2.7 billion in spending on the presidential election alone, with 29% of that (over $800 million) being spent on digital video. But what does an election year mean for digital marketers, paid search, and social media campaigns
Ah yes—it wouldn’t be America without some good old fashioned capitalism. Politico’s projections call for a 57% growth in political ad spending from 2018 to 2020. That’s an undeniably massive jump in spending that will make guys like Mark Zuckerburg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey very happy campers. Unfortunately for digital marketers, this increase in demand and spending on political ads drives up prices overall. Political campaigns are ready and willing to pour money into social media ads in an effort to reach the ever-important younger generation, and that eagerness drives up ad prices for all digital marketers. So be prepared to increase your bids, or find a way to get creative and make your dollars go further.
2020 will be a year to do your best with best practices. A complete audit of your brand’s paid landscape is never a bad idea, but it’ll be especially imperative as the campaign trail picks up. Take a look at what content, ads, keywords, etc. are performing well and make an effort to prioritize them. Conduct research and listen to your customers to make sure you’re targeting the right people and serving them relevant content. If you notice an ad is regularly underperforming, think about reducing your budget and funneling those savings into highly effective ads.
This year, brands will be experimenting and taking risks outside of paid ads more than ever. Rather than trying to compete in spending as political campaigns flood the market, nimble brands will find ways to avoid the foray altogether. Look for micro-influencers, traditional advertising, and ditching social media to focus on customer engagement to increase in 2020. We expect more companies to become frustrated with the pay-to-play nature of social and search ads and turn to more affordable options that make more authentic connections with customers. Lush bailed on social media altogether, and brands like Tesla have stopped running paid social ads—choosing to focus on more personal interaction with customers in an effort to win the word-of-mouth war. It’s certainly not the right move for every brand, but making an intentional step back may allow your brand the opportunity to catch its breath and identify an opportunity to break the routine of paid search and social.
Consumers are starting to crave the unplugged solitude of daily life with a little less screen time. While smartphones will never go away, this trend is an indication that consumers might be starting to grow wary of the chaos of social media and the omnipotent digital ad landscape. As political and general ad spending reaches an all-time high, 2020 may be the year of brands making bold departures in favor of new and different channels to reach their customers. As with all things marketing, be sure you’ve done your due diligence in researching, listening, and preparing for any major strategy shifts that may be on the horizon for your brand.