This year's pre-election political advertising saw the start of a new trend for political advertisers: The YouTube takeover.
In past races, paid advertising campaigns on social channels, specifically Facebook, (and, increasingly, Instagram), has been the top choice for candidates looking to reach a wide audience. This year, in the course of just three months (August-October 2020), we saw investments on YouTube from both candidates nearly triple their respective Facebook investment rates.
The YouTube Takeover Tussle
Perhaps the most interesting part of the competing YouTube takeover strategies is the timing in which they occurred. Trump began the trend in August, placing a strategic week-long takeover during the Democratic National Convention, and again the following week, during the Republican National convention.
By the end of the convention, Biden's camp was hip to the strategy, managing to pull out one day of takeover ads during the Republican convention's final day on August 27th. The next takeover appearance comes a full month later, for the first Presidential debate, where Trump again controls the YouTube homepage, with Biden taking over the page the following day.
This pattern continues, with Trump landing takeovers on all but one of the major political event dates (the one exception being the last day of the Republican Convention in August, as previously mentioned). But in late October, as Biden's campaign saw a late surge in funds, we see a much bigger presence from Biden, with 5 of his 8 total takeovers occurring in the last two weeks of October.
Since we know you're wondering, here were the final numbers for each takeover campaign:
Donald J. Trump for President
Spend: $121 Million +
Impressions: 11 Billion +
Biden for President:
Spend: $94 Million +
Impressions: 7 Billion +
What can we learn?
Regardless of the outcome of the election, we imagine this YouTube takeover strategy is one we'll see again. One reason why? Streaming numbers are up--we all know this. This year, especially, with people stuck in their homes at record rates, these campaigns identified another way to get his message in front of voters who may be streaming political events on YouTube or watching highlight reels after the event ends. With over 20 Billion impressions during their combined 16 takeovers, we'd say it was a good call.
With over a decade of experience across digital marketing, content, creative, and PR, Sarah is a creative and dynamic thinker who loves to delight clients with unique and relatable content. Sarah graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Sociology.