Managing Ad Experiences During the 2024 Election Season

Incorporating election ads into a revenue strategy is fraught with risks. During this election season, publishers face a storm of divisive election ads and misinformation – risks that can alienate audiences, diminish brand value, and deter quality advertisers. GeoEdge detection has identified a surge in problematic election advertising during Q3 2023.

Publishers must be prepared to fiercely safeguard ad experiences throughout the intense upcoming 2024 election season. Oversight of their programmatic inventory is crucial. It requires managing political advertisers and campaigns, and maintaining accessible channels for users to flag election-related ads.

US Ad Industry Set for 5% Growth, with 2024 Political Surge Ahead

The 2024 US election has already directed a rapid surge of ad revenue into the digital marketplace. By July 2023, political campaigns had already spent over $200 million on the upcoming races. Each presidential election season tends to surpass the ad spend of the previous one, and this year is no exception. Ad revenue is expected to rise 4.3% in 2024, or 8.1% when including political ads, Madison and Wall’s Brian Wieser forecasts. 2020’s total of $8.5 billion spent on political ads is expected to grow to $11 billion in 2024.

Lessons for Publishers From the 2020 Election Season

Political ads during the 2020 election season were problematic on several fronts. Here are the main takeaways for ad publishers from the 2020 election season:

Miscategorized campaigns: In 2020, some advertisers deliberately miscategorized their campaigns. This allowed ads to bypass publisher blocklists and appear on sites that were not aligned with the creative’s message or values, and on sites that opted not to host political ads.

Offensive creative: Political ad campaigns often rely on sensationalist copy and unflattering images of rival candidates in the creative. Even if a campaign has correctly categorized an ad’s content and message, offensive creatives can still be inflammatory to users, which fosters mistrust, despite publishers’ intentions.

Cybercriminal exploitation: The high volume of political ad buys serves as cover for cybercriminals to evade SSP and ad quality exchange regulations. Cybercriminals often exploit inexpensive, salacious ad creative to entice users to willingly click through to unsafe, fraudulent landing pages.

Optimizing Political Ad Revenue While Safeguarding User Experience

GeoEdge allows publishers to regain control of the advertising ecosystem, even during a tumultuous election season.GeoEdge’s Election Filter allows publishers to toggle political ads on or off. To prevent political ads from serving to audiences, GeoEdge analyzes all ad creative and landing pages for election-related content, including:

  • Creatives directly associated with elections and specific candidates
  • Ads leading to landing pages focusing on elections or candidates
  • Websites endorsing a candidate (such as sites)

Managing Political Ads

GeoEdge offers customizable filters for a more tailored approach during the election season to prevent ads from alienating audiences or degrading user experience.

There are no universal brand suitability standards. To ensure brand safety and suitability, and to keep users engaged and monetizing the site, publishers must gain a broad view of all programmatic inventory. This will allow them to ensure their ad content is accurately aligned with their page content at all times.

GeoEdge recommends the following 5 approaches to managing ad content serving on your site:

  1. Activate blocking for the entire “elections” category, while approving specific sites and advertisers.
  2. Greenlight all election-related ads by default, and then pinpoint specific sites and advertisers to block.
  3. Use keyword searches to pinpoint specific election-related keywords in ads and block them.
  4. Proactively set a list of keywords to flag, and then review and block unwanted ads based on the list
  5. Enable users to report any election-related ads to the ad ops team for immediate action by enabling users to flag undesired ads directly from the ad slot.

Optimize Political Ad Revenue This Season

During this current election cycle, GeoEdge recommends that publishers take the following steps to attract ad revenue from relevant, brand-suitable, and audience-appropriate political ad campaigns:

  • Analyze all ad creatives and landing pages for inappropriate content. This is an essential way to block deceptive campaigns in which the ad creative misrepresents the landing page, including ads from fraudsters who pose as legitimate advertisers.
  • Seek out relevant ads and campaigns beyond the highest-profile races. Publishers may find that down-ballot campaigns, such as state or local races, are safer for their pages and more informative to users. These campaigns can be good sources of revenue for publishers who want to avoid high-profile political drama.
  • Allow users to flag inappropriate ads through a channel that alerts the publishing team directly. Doing so makes users feel heard and appreciated, while providing important insights that allow publishers to optimize their ad standards.

Particularly during sensitive election seasons, publishers must maintain full control over ad experience, ensure brand safety, and preserve the balance between healthy revenue generation and positive user experience.

It’s a formidable task, but publishers need not undertake it alone. Try out GeoEdge’s 2024 Election Filter for the customization you need to drive ad revenue during election season, while keeping audiences engaged and monetizing websites.

Alisha is a Technology Writer and Marketing Manager at GeoEdge. Her writing focuses on current events in the AdTech ecosystem and cyberattacks served through the digital advertising supply chain. You can find Alisha on LinkedIn to discuss brand building and happenings in AdTech.

Malvertising, the practice of sprinkling malicious code into legitimate-looking ads is growing more sophisticated. GeoEdge’s holistic ad quality solution has you covered.


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