The Ins and Outs Of Election 2024 Audience Targeting

January 31, 2024 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

Held during the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 election cycle was deemed a “digital election” as traditional campaign tactics shifted online. According to the 2020 Political Advertising Report, political digital advertising spend grew 4.6x from 2018 to 2020.

Americans’ daily digital screen time, according to eMarketer, soared to nearly eight hours per day and candidates took advantage, strategically  showcasing their messages across countless newsfeeds, searches and emails.

While the pandemic has subsided, Americans’ appetite for digital content has not. Once again, candidates are turning to digital advertising to expand their reach and spread their messages far and wide.

As digital programmatic media buyers gear up for the 2024 election year, mastering the nuances of targeting political audiences is crucial for success. In this article, we'll delve into the specific laws governing political audience targeting in the U.S., explore their implications, and outline actionable strategies to optimize your campaign using DSPs.

Understanding the Rules of Political Audience Targeting

Understanding the laws that govern online political advertising is the foundation of a successful campaign. Let's dissect two key legislations— the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA)— and their implications for digital programmatic media buyers.

Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA):

  • Transparency Mandate: FECA mandates transparency in political advertising, requiring clear disclosure of funding sources. Digital programmatic media buyers must ensure that their ads provide viewers with information about who is funding the campaign.
  • Avoiding Foreign Influence: FECA strictly prohibits the use of foreign funds in political campaigns. Media buyers must implement targeting strategies that avoid any association with foreign entities, safeguarding campaigns from legal repercussions.

Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA):

  • Coordination Restrictions: BCRA places limitations on coordination between media buyers and political candidates or parties. Digital programmatic media buyers must steer clear of activities that might be perceived as coordinated efforts, ensuring compliance with BCRA provisions.
  • Corporate and Union Funding Limits: BCRA prohibits corporations and unions from funding certain electioneering communications. Media buyers should be aware of specific timeframes leading up to elections when these restrictions apply.

Navigating the Dos and Don'ts

The digital landscape is flooded with information making it challenging to target the right audience. Media buyers utilizing DSPs should consider the following dos and don'ts to ensure effective and ethical targeting:


  1. Adhere to Privacy Regulations: Respect privacy regulations and adhere to platform-specific guidelines to maintain ethical advertising practices.
  2. Utilize Zero-Party Data: Leverage zero-party data to gain a nuanced understanding of diverse audiences' preferences, behaviors, and attitudes. This data empowers media buyers to create messages that resonate authentically.


  1. Discriminatory Practices: Avoid discriminatory practices in targeting. Stay mindful of regulations to ensure your campaign strategy is inclusive and fair so that it resonates with the intended audience without infringing on ethical standards.
  2. Conflicts of Interest: Steer clear of activities that could be perceived as conflicts of interest or close coordination with political candidates or parties. Familiarize yourself with the rules and implement processes to govern your behavior.

Be Inclusive in Your Political Audience Targeting

Diversity is a driving force in American democracy, and multicultural audiences wield significant influence online and at the ballot box. By leveraging multicultural insights, media buyers can tailor programmatic campaigns to serve ads on channels favored by diverse communities with messages that are important to them.

Optimize Your 2024 Campaign Strategy

As the 2024 election year unfolds, digital programmatic media buyers empowered with a comprehensive understanding of legal frameworks, strategic targeting practices, and the power of multicultural insights are poised for success. By staying informed and employing innovative tools, media buyers can confidently navigate the nuances of political audiences, contributing to a more inclusive and impactful democratic process.

This blog post was originally published on MediaPost.