As we enter the third pandemic year, the one word that could sum up this phase of the 2022 midterm cycle is uncertainty. Digital ad restrictions, changes to voting laws, online privacy concerns, the direction of the pandemic and its impact on face-to-face campaigning and ad production are things that are giving consultants pause.
But who wants to talk about that during a client pitch?
A range of consultants, from different sectors of the industry, had these predictions for the year ahead:
John Rowley, Founder, CounterPoint Messaging
We’ll see more investment in the science behind how to make content and ads more emotionally resonant on the Democrats side since we too often bring a policy knife to an emotional gunfight.
Incessant battles within the Democrat Party between those who believe hiring staff and grassroots “people powered” politics trump integrated campaigns that use ground game and air war, microtargeting and mass communications.
One hundred million of progressive 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) money will be invested in long-term legal strategy to prevent a Trump, congressional and state legislative effort to help him become president no matter the election results in 2024.
Genevieve Wilkins, SVP of Creative at ROKK Solutions
We will see more advocacy groups, political voices, retail brands and leaders in the entertainment industry do a lot of investing in their TikTok presence in 2022.
The TikTok TV app home-viewing experience is going to be a catalyst for companies to develop innovative ways to integrate their TikTok presence with traditional TV advertising, print, in-store, and out-of-home marketing. I think we are going to see many new influencers from the app become the new celebrity pitchmen and women. I must say I’m looking forward to the big multimedia ideas and promotions.
The trick is they must be done flawlessly. I expect to see someone do this in a big way during the Super Bowl. I also expect to see this multimedia TikTok charge being done as we go into midterm elections and any other big events in 2022.
This will probably bring about more social media regulation and spreading of misinformation hearings on the Hill after the dust has settled. 2022 is going to be fascinating, but I’m ready for it!
Beth Becker, Founder, Becker Digital Strategies
First, expect to see continued headlines about misleading email practices along with continued pressure from within the industry on the bad actors who use them: misleading subject lines, unsubscribe fails, etc.
Second, Facebook ads will continue to be a thorn in our sides, but given the number of people on [the site], Facebook ads will continue to be used while folks get more sophisticated in diversifying their online spend.
Third, face-to-face interactions are going to continue to be a point of contention in campaigning. I hope we’ll see continued innovation in blending face-to-face with digital outreach and identifying ways to connect with people in ways they are comfortable.
Fourth, everyone will continue to look for the next big platform, but there won’t necessarily actually be one.
And finally, at least one campaign or PAC, if not more, will get in on the NFT craze and some campaigns will start to accept bitcoin donations.
Patrick O’Keefe, Director, Customer Success, Anedot
The ongoing moves by Facebook, Apple, and Google to respond to privacy concerns will continue to impact political organizations in 2022. The move by organizations to first-party data will be swift and could lead to new movements in data sharing. This increased data sharing may lead to blowback from weary supporters who say: “I didn’t sign up for your list.”
Ashlee Rich Stephenson, Senior Political Strategist, Political Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The “everything and the kitchen sink” Build Back Better agenda may limp forward, but if it’s ultimately pursued will, of course, be nowhere near the original $3.5T price tag or maybe even the $1.75T that passed the House on a party-line vote. This legislation will continue to be a political albatross for candidates who support it and are running in swing districts or in competitive senate contests.
Jockeying for the 2024 presidential primaries (both parties) will begin well in advance of the sun setting on November 8, 2022. The old rules of starting to staff and prep post midterms are no longer the norm. We can expect wall-to-wall presidential campaign coverage earlier than ever — especially if former President Trump officially announces his candidacy.
Adam Probolsky, President, Probolsky Research
The pendulum swing from the current Congress run by moderate Democrats to Republican rule will happen in grander fashion than we can conceive of today.
A Chinese government-backed cryptocurrency will launch and shift power away from the dollar and loosen the U.S.’s grip on the world economy.
The population shift away from cities to suburban and rural America will create big economic opportunities for communities that have languished for decades, and this will give rise to a new breed of political leaders who will successfully use their big city political skills to win local and legislative office.
Investigations into Trump will yield more and more disturbing and shocking facts, none of which will lead to a successful prosecution. Not because he’s innocent, but because Americans don’t think it’s smart to put our ex-presidents in prison.
Eric Wilson, SVP for Strategy, Bullpen Strategy Group
Talent is in short supply at nearly every organization and role. The political industry will get creative about solving this in 2022. From engaging more freelancers with platforms like GOP Jobs to automating data integration with tools like Datrm.in, campaigns and political organizations need to do more with less.
Volunteers are also a valuable, yet untapped resource for campaigns to fill this gap. This means trusting, training, and equipping them to become a real part of the campaign. Campaigns need to look for ways to engage volunteer time and talent beyond phones and doors.
Shannon Chatlos, SVP, Strategy & Digital, Strategic Partners & Media, LLC
The CDC will say political ads fight off COVID. I hope that’s true because American voters are about to get vaccinated and triple boosted! Strategic planning for 2022 is well underway, and one thing consultants are willing to do is think outside the metaphorical box and plan grassroots strategies to grab voters’ attention. You’ll see a “strategic digital” budget on each of my plans — 2022 will be won in the trenches.
Nick J. Daggers, Partner, 1833 Group
Fundraising will continue to be a challenge for many candidates in 2022. Democratic Congressional challengers will see a tightened battlefield next fall, and undoubtedly a drop off in cash, as the committees, special interests, and savvy donors rally around protecting incumbents. Democrats can hopefully hold the majority if they are able to offset incumbent losses with wins in newly crafted districts in the suburbs and see a Biden rebound. Money, as always, will play a key role in who holds the speaker’s gavel.
Chuck Rocha, President, Solidarity Strategies
My prediction is that there will be a bigger focus by both parties and candidates on Latino voters. They are the new “soccer mom,” “blue-collar worker” or “suburban swing voter.” They are the new, true swing voter. So that means we’ll see more Google translated ads by consultants trying to wrongly just take their English message and do the same to Hispanics/Latinos.
With all this new focus on Latinos, I also predict a lot more disinformation going to this community in Spanish. This, in turn, opens the door to predicting new development of technologies to reach Latinos on WhatsApp, encrypted messaging and FB messenger. Lastly, as a response to all of this, I think there will be more money spent on YouTube in Spanish in 2022 than Univision.
Cheryl Hori, Founder, Pacific Campaign House
In 2022, we’ll continue to see an increase in budget allocation for outreach to communities of color and a budget decrease for Facebook/Meta.
With so much on the line for both sides of the aisle this midterm, neither party can afford to leave any voters on the sidelines. Following 2020, we saw the immense impact of voters of color in the Georgia special and swing states across the country. Black, Hispanic, and AANHPI voters will be the margin of victory in congressional and statewide elections and it would be a misstep to count them out.
On the flip side, Facebook/Meta’s decision to keep hacking away at targeting options will likely lead to a decrease in political ads on the platform. Starting January 19th, campaigns will no longer be able to use in-platform targeting for a number of data points — including political beliefs. Without the ability to leverage the app’s detailed targeting options Facebook loses a large part of its competitive advantage.
Dean Petrone, CEO, Go Big Media, Inc.
Despite more stringent online privacy laws, political content suppression and further limiting of political targeting, candidates, PACs, and other organizations will spend record sums on Facebook and Google in 2022, dedicating even larger percentages of their paid media budgets to these platforms than they did in the previous cycle. Why? Even with these added constraints, Facebook and Google are still unrivaled in their reach and ability to quickly and efficiently deliver a message. Given the political climate and lack of serious competition, don’t be surprised if we see these platforms tighten the noose once more before the cycle is over.
Brian Ross Adams, Founder, Trusted Messenger Marketing
Speaking nationally, the Democrats will continue to lose ground until they develop a provocative and entertaining counterpoint to the Republican Party freak show. Our online discourse will continue to resemble a WWE match and once you understand that you will find that Democrats are completely outmatched.
We have entered into the post-policy, post-party world. You either entertain, incite, provoke, troll or you get left behind.
What’s the good news? Well, if you live in California you can count on some progressive policies and global climate change mitigation that can serve as an example to other states looking to lead in the absence of “build back better.” Also, we now can trust online NY bagel delivery.
Kalani Tissot, Principal, Tissot Solutions
As campaigns and politics continue to become more polarized, the amount of money raised will only go up. Expect top campaigns to be setting new fundraising records for the 2022 cycle.
For fundraising professionals, this means we need to put a stronger emphasis on leveraging data and technology. There has never been a better time to explore using SaaS web apps, APIs, automation, and new tech platforms to more efficiently operate and raise money.
With an unprecedented number of donors participating in the process, the top fundraising teams will be those who best adapt to this new environment and bring a heavy focus on data to the table.
Jordan Lieberman, Vice President & General Manager, Politics & Public Affairs, a4 Media
If you want to know how much new, exciting, and game changing technology will proliferate into the ad tech space, keep an eye on Fed Chairman Jay Powell.
Hawkish deviation from the current dot plot promising three 2022 interest rate hikes may stifle the political technology (and overall ad tech) space. If this happens, look for less aggressive moves by DSPs, possible struggles within the CTV landscape, and new players with exotic state-of-the-art technologies failing to enter the market.
Pending moves by the Fed, it will be back to basics in 2022 with the proven verticals of linear TV and traditional programmatic digital continuing to eat broadcast. This will be powered by better data and modeling, as privacy-centric targeted linear and digital ads converge and stay center stage.
Marty Stone, Co-Founder, Stones’ Phones
Campaigns and causes will continue to be lazy. They will pour more and more of their funds into all things digital while watching the effectiveness of digital decrease.
Democratic campaigns will continue to rely on voter databases that are inaccurate. Field and phones will continue to be “too hard” to implement when you can just buy a lot of digital. I don’t hold out much hope that campaigns will figure out that the candidate is their best weapon — for fundraising they’ll try to rely on text and email, and put call time and events on a back burner. Also, they’ll somehow think that a Zoom call with 100 people on it is better than a telephone town hall with 10,000 on it because the Zoom is “free.”
Tom Edmonds, founder of Edmonds Associates
Republican Glenn Youngkin’s upset gubernatorial victory in Virginia in 2021 added new meaning to the old adage: What’s old is new again. Until we can vote on our iPhones, seniors and rural voters—often the same thing—will prove to be the margin of victory in more and more elections. And their “old school” media preferences will become even more important.
Local newspapers, AM and FM radio stations, and direct mail—all these old media will fly under the digital radar screen and bring “upset” victories to candidates smart enough to recognize their impact. Media buyers will need to pick up that landline and call those weekly newspapers if they want their candidates to win. Really. Just watch what happens in 2022.