YouTube Wants to Compete with Facebook, Local TV for Political Ad Dollars

AP Photo/Reed Saxon
AP Photo/Reed Saxon

YouTube is stepping up its game against Facebook and local TV stations for a greater share of political campaign advertising dollars ahead of the 2020 presidential election, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal said Tuesday that the Google-owned YouTube recently launched a new tool allowing political ad buyers to book slots through February, which is when voting starts in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other crucial primaries.

YouTube’s Instant Reserve launched last month and allows campaigns to book ad time months in advance. A Google spokeswoman told the Journal that the company is testing the tool with political advertisers as well as media and consumer companies.

The market for political ads has long been dominated by local TV. Political TV ad spending is set to hit $4.78 billion in 2020, compared to $2.85 billion for online and digital ads, according to the Journal.

Facebook is now a major destination for campaign ad dollars, but the report noted that as Election Day gets closer, campaigns tend to refocus their advertising to videos, which are seen as more effective.

YouTube’s new service is allowing campaigns to target specific demographics ahead of important days. The Journal reported that during the 2018 election, Google hired consultants and pollsters from both sides of the aisle to analyze and help fine-tune YouTube’s targeting of specific demographic segments.

The Journal also noted that President Trump’s re-election campaign has spent at least three times as much on advertising through Google, including YouTube, as any Democratic candidate.

Google is planning to let ad buyers reserve slots on YouTube for the entirety of 2020 starting on November 15, the report said.

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