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Out Of Home Open Mic Outdoor Advertising

Navigating the political storm: Why out of home media is your campaign's shelter

By Bob McCuin, Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer

Clear Channel Outdoor Americas


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April 15, 2024 | 6 min read

Amidst the escalating 2024 presidential race, a surge in political advertising expenditure could prompt brand marketers and political strategists to pivot towards out of home (OOH) media, says Bob McCuin (executive vice president and chief revenue officer, Clear Channel Outdoor). Here’s why.

The 2024 presidential stage is set. Brand marketers and political campaign strategists should take heed. In media buying, the impending political storm on TV advertising demands strategic foresight from both brand and political media buyers.

According to a recent Reuters article, US political advertising spend will likely jump by nearly a third in 2024 over the previous US presidential election year, with TV media again taking a lion's share of the dollars. As the airwaves get saturated with relentless political ads, media planners must consider alternative channels to ensure their fall campaigns reach their target audience. Out of home (OOH) media, particularly digital billboards, emerges as the beacon of opportunity, offering flexibility, contextual relevance, and a respite from the political ad deluge.

The TV ad onslaught: A call to plan ahead

According to a report by research firm Insider Intelligence, political advertising spend is expected to rise by about 30% from 2020 to $12.32bn this year, and ad spend on traditional media (most of which is TV) will rise 7.9%, accounting for 71.9% of all spend. But television is becoming a battleground in itself, leaving media buyers grappling with how to make their brand messages stand out amidst the political noise.

This is especially true for brands as their ads poised for political season may get shelved or pushed out of the TV ad rotation due to federal laws governing requirements for radio and TV station operators to run political ads. And consider that between September to October 2020, political advertising accounted for between 25% to 50% of the ads seen on local TV in some battleground states (Vivvix, 2024).

Brands can avoid the TV ad congestion by integrating OOH media into their third and fourth quarter ad strategies now. Billboards, with their larger-than-life presence, provide a canvas for brands to paint compelling narratives that capture attention in a clutter free and brand safe environment without risk of being sandwiched between potentially divisive editorial or political content.

Flexibility in the face of chaos: Seizing contextual moments

Amidst this environment, one of the primary advantages of OOH media is its flexibility to adapt to real-time events and cultural shifts. Brands can swiftly respond to the evolving political landscape through digital billboards. This agility enables them to connect with audiences in the moment, capitalizing on the contextual relevance of seasonal opportunities as well as current affairs.

By being nimble and reactive, brands can position themselves as part of the ongoing conversation. Whether it's a witty response to a political gaffe or a timely message aligning with a national event, digital billboards allow for immediate engagement. This not only enhances brand affinity but also establishes a sense of authenticity that resonates with the audience against the political noise.

Political media buyers: Pivoting to OOH for targeted and impactful campaigns

Political media buyers, too, must recognize the changing dynamics of viewer fatigue and the diminishing returns of traditional TV advertising. The aggressive nature of political attack ads can lead to audience disengagement, prompting a strategic shift to more cost-effective and flexible platforms like OOH media. 

According to a recent survey from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and Morning Consult, OOH ads prove to be an effective medium to reach, inform and influence voters. An overwhelming majority (68%) of likely voters have seen, heard, or read political advertising through an OOH ad recently. Furthermore, the study found more than half of likely voters exposed to an OOH political ad in the past year (56%) trust political information in an OOH ad to be truthful and accurate.

The 2024 political season also brings a flurry of significant drivers for regional politicians to up the ante on their ad spend. With significant Senate and House seats up for grabs and issues like the possibility of reproductive rights being on the ballot, we anticipate many markets across the country to maximize their ad strategies with a multi-pronged approach that includes OOH media.

Just like with brand marketers, digital billboards offer political campaigns the ability to make a swift and impactful pivot. Without the need for elaborate production processes, political advertisers can respond dynamically to unfolding events, quickly adapting their messaging to resonate with the public. This flexibility not only ensures a more agile campaign but also optimizes media spend in an environment where every second counts. Moreover, OOH is targetable by audience segments and demographics down to the zip code level making it easy to reach likely voters in key voting districts just about anywhere, including in battleground states.

Battleground states: A real factor in the OOH equation

For media buyers operating in battleground states, the need for strategic planning and alternative advertising channels becomes even more critical. The saturation of political ads in these states amplifies the challenge of breaking through the clutter. Brands and political campaigns that leverage OOH media will carve out a space for themselves in the hearts and minds of the audience.

As the political storm intensifies on TV, media buyers must set their sights on alternative channels that offer both respite and opportunity. OOH media, particularly digital billboards, is a gateway for those seeking flexibility, contextual relevance, and the ability to cut through the political noise. By planning ahead and embracing the agility of OOH, media buyers can ensure their fall campaigns not only weather the storm but thrive in its midst.

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