Third-party cookies not up for reelection in 2024

political campaigns

Why that’s a good thing and how targeting actual people will bring much-needed change to the fraud-filled, bloated political advertising game

Fall is approaching in an even-numbered year. That means inboxes are bracing for an onslaught of political advertising. 

Actually, it’s already begun and shows no signs of slowing. More than $8B was spent on political advertising during the 2020 presidential election year. This was up a whopping $1.5B from the previous presidential election cycle. 

Where’s all that money going? Based on the work we do validating and cleaning political advertising lists, a significant portion of those budgets is being spent to reach nobody. The funds simply drown in a murky swamp full of fakes, bots, and click farms. 

The messages that actually reach consumers are frequently getting lost. A high-profile political strategist recently lamented receiving 25 fundraising pleas from just one campaign in a 24-hour period. 


But we see it ourselves as consumers, right? Make one donation or get on the wrong list, and your info is sold and resold ad infinitum. The more those lists are passed around, the staler they get. Pretty soon, campaigns are just spraying anything to anyone. And once they lose sight of who they’re actually reaching, they have no idea how many people are represented multiple times on their lists. Or if they’re talking to actual people at all. 

At the same time, voters are growing disenchanted with the negativity of many of these messages. Or the extremely common practice of playing fast and loose with the truth. 

Sure sometimes, these approaches work, but sometimes they don’t. 

But how can campaigns tell what’s working and what’s not if they don’t know who they’re reaching and who’s clicking what? 

As issues rule the day, how can they be sure they’re targeting the right voters with the messages most likely to get them to engage? 

In short, they can’t. 

Cookies will have one last run this political season, but why not just drop them altogether now?

Yes, cookies will still be with us for the 2022 midterm cycle. As will all those bloated, dated voter and donor lists. 

But we think campaigns that want to make an impact would be best served by weeding out the junk and tapping into personally identifiable information (PII)-based data ASAP. 

Why? Because PII data is based on real people and real information is known about them. This means messages can be surgically targeted versus spraying at the masses, overwhelming them, or turning them off with certain approaches. 

Here’s what PII can do for your campaign: 

  • Put your message in front of real people. Reach actual, verified members of your electorate to boost ROI of your ad spend and eliminate waste. 
  • Ensure you’re free of fraud. When you’re connecting with real people, there is no fraud. Your ad dollars will never be spent on useless data pulled from suspect sites, cookies, or bid streams. 
  • Help you target more effectively. Combine offline, online and mobile attributes like name, email, postal address, and phone number, all tied to a verified person. This lets you create custom audiences of voters at granular levels so campaign messages are only delivered to desired constituencies. 
  • Get real metrics that tell the whole story. When you have deep insights into who has seen your message and engaged, you can make more informed decisions about what to do next. You not only avoid sending duplicate messages to the same person but gain a foundation you can build upon for a multiple-touchpoint campaign. 

Political campaigns can be not just effective, but also cost-effective when you cut out the waste and talk to real people. 

During Covid, we helped create a verified audience of 120,000 individuals for a congressional candidate. We targeted specifically democratic voters, veterans, and Spanish speakers within the candidate’s district and utilized a multi-channel approach spanning email, display, mobile, social, and video. 

We achieved an average 19% engagement rate across all segments. A 60-second video that was shared earned a whopping 70% completion rate with this audience. 

The tide is turning. Soon, it won’t be about which campaign has the most cash, but which is spending it most wisely. 

When you take a people-based approach, you really can’t go wrong. 

Let’s talk about how we can support your political operation this cycle and beyond.

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