The emerging role of FAST in political advertising

By Senior Director, Product Marketing, Amagi - February 26, 2024

Political advertising on TV has been a huge part of election campaigns in the United States, dating all the way back to 1952. What started with Eisenhower Answers America -- the first political ad campaign on traditional TV -- has come a long way in reaching billions of voters and significantly activating nonvoters throughout every election cycle since.

Fast forward to 2024, and less than half of the U.S. is consuming political ads on traditional Pay TV. Viewership is transitioning to Connected TV (CTV), and so are political advertisers. With these changing viewership trends, how do advertisers navigate their ad spending, reach voters, and capture political dollars? 

We're here to answer these questions and share in-depth insights into how advertisers can build a solid ground for political advertising for the 2024 elections.

Voters continue to cut cords, seek free content

With CTV in 88% of U.S. households, cord-cutting continues and remains popular among viewers aged 35-54. In battleground states, voters are tuned into CTV at a higher-than-average rate, underscoring the need for CTV to be part of political ad campaigns. Heavy streamers also have an increased likelihood of voting when the ad exposure is closer to the election date.  

The emergence of Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu on CTV in the 2000s marked a paradigm shift in the way viewers consumed TV content. And the launch of their ad-supported tiers more recently offers an option to receive premium content with ads at economical pricing. 

Though viewers find this model easier on their wallets, the challenges of content discovery and recurring subscription expenses still show them drifting toward Free Ad-supported Streaming TV (FAST). FAST is free, lean-back, and offers unlimited content choices. 

Our latest FAST Report illustrated why those ad dollars are also moving from SVOD to FAST. The report shares data (Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2023) on how FAST saw a Year-Over-Year (YoY) global growth of 25% in channel deliveries, a 28% increase in ad impressions, and a 26% increase in Hours Of Viewing (HOV). News continues to top the charts amongst all genres worldwide, gaining 41% of overall ad impressions and 35% of total HOV. 

Naturally, FAST has emerged as a promising avenue for political advertisers to reach their target voters quickly and effectively. With a highly engaged audience and sharper targeting options, FAST enables reaching out to audiences who would never be found on Pay TV, where a major chunk of the political advertisement budget lies. 

READ: How FAST channels complement on-demand strategy

Political advertisers are akin to CTV advertising

Though CTV advertising might seem to be gaining steam more recently, it did attract political advertisers in past election cycles. In Joe Biden's 2020 presidential campaign, of the total $260M paid media budget, $60M was centered around CTV. This move, propelled by the pandemic, was based on the viewership shift from Pay TV to streaming. 

"We recognize the growth of nonlinear TV and will continue to invest in it as a part of the paid media campaign," said Patrick Bosignore, Director of Digital Advertising for Biden's campaign, to Adweek.

By the 2022 midterm elections, linear Pay TV subscriptions further decreased, and streaming viewers increased, driving political advertisers to strongly consider CTV advertising to reach targeted voters. That election cycle turned out to be the most expensive midterm election in U.S. history, with $8.9 billion spent on campaign advertising. CTV's ad spending accounted for 12% of total political spending.  

The numbers continue to evolve for the 2024 elections: 

  • AdImpact projects the 2023-2024 election cycle’s political ad spending to be $10.2 billion. This political cycle is set to be the most expensive one in history, costing 13% higher than the 2019-2020 cycle ($9.02 billion)
  • $1.3 billion will be directed to CTV political advertising

Learn more: 5 key insider tips for enhancing your FAST distribution strategy

FAST fits the bill of political campaign advertising

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If viewers get a free, passive, and seamless experience from FAST, political advertisers are able to streamline their reach and target voters efficiently through FAST. Here's how:

Hyper-personalization and contextual advertising

Whether it is national, state, or local elections, FAST enables the delivery of hyper-personalized ads based on categories like age, geography and personal interests. When contextually relevant, ads have a higher impact and better recall rate, encouraging voters to take the necessary call to action (i.e., voting and contributing to fundraising, polls and surveys). 

The 2022 midterm elections are a classic example of contextually irrelevant ads that wasted ad dollars. These ads were about issues not concerning voters or showed candidates they couldn't vote for. With addressability, advertisers can be sure their spending is routed in the right direction.

WATCH: Gavin Bridge on the power of political advertising on FAST 

The prominence of local news 

Local news on streaming TV offers an excellent platform for electoral candidates to target specific viewers. Previously, smaller-race candidates could not afford to run TV commercials, especially in larger DMAs, as the cost was too high. However, with streaming, they can now target their district and even specific constituencies, which makes the buy more affordable. 

The 9th edition of Amagi's Global FAST report shares that people in the US have a strong desire to stay informed about what's happening in their vicinity – be it local news or weather updates. Local news is still popular among Americans, with around 25 million viewers tuning in daily. The United States has 842 local news stations, out of which 218 have already introduced their FAST channels to cater to the increasing demand for quick and local news.

With younger viewers still watching local news, many on streaming TV, FAST channels offer a promising opportunity to reach diverse yet niche demographics; advertising on the same means more dollars.

The industry is heading toward the local news market, too, since many big and small players continued to add local FAST news channels to their offerings in 2023. Local Now added over 200 channels to their service, most of which were local news channels. Samsung TV Plus also saw an exponential growth curve tying up with local broadcast stations to offer local news on FAST based on geolocation. 

NBCU expanded its FAST local news portfolio by adding 15 new channels, which include 11 English-language and four regional Telemundo FAST channels. Similarly, Cox Media Group launched its local news channel on FAST called Neighborhood TV, which serves ultra-local news - at a neighborhood level. The beta tests in Atlanta and Charlotte got over 100 million impressions monthly. 

During elections, viewership on these channels will likely increase dramatically, putting ad dollars to their best use.

Read our blog: 5 reasons every local station group should consider FAST


One of the most overlooked aspects of FAST advertising is how co-viewing influences engagement and increases ad impressions positively. Advertising on FAST, when multiple viewers consume content through a single TV screen, offers value-added benefits of higher impressions and enhanced reach for the same cost. Elections could be one of the best times to leverage co-viewing. 

Read more: FAST advertising: What's in it for advertisers?

Programmatic advertising for the win

With numerous players in the market, how do advertisers and content owners ensure their ads reach their target audience and generate optimal ROI? Programmatic advertising enables the automatic buying and selling of ads, helping deliver the right ad to the right audience.

Amagi ADS PLUS, our advertising marketplace, connects premium CTV content owners with global programmatic and direct buyers, helping fill most of CTV’s ad inventory. Our marketplace connects you to the right content owners at scale so you can unlock new premium supply or monetize impressions that may have otherwise gone unfilled. 

Amagi ADS PLUS political package helps you:

Reach across premium news content

More than 30% of viewing hours across Amagi's partners are spent on news content. Get access to 71 local news stations across 40 markets and national news programming from trusted brands.

Access swing state voters

Leverage the diversity of Amagi's streaming partnerships and access voters in swing states. Deliver meaningful ads in these regions, which significantly impact the overall result of the presidential election. 


Focus your campaign on key voter segments

  1. Geotarget based on location leveraging DMA or zip codes
  2. Audience: Onboard first-party data or leverage third-party audience data from leading providers
  3. Contextual: Package inventory for maximum impact by applying Amagi's rich contextual signals

Reach beyond traditional ad break


Viewers often find repetitive advertising annoying, as encountering the same ad across several platforms can lead to ad fatigue. Using in-content ads can help reach your audience non-intrusively without disrupting their overall viewing experience or increasing the pod length. In-content ads provide an opportunity to deliver personalized ads, resulting in a higher return on ad spend (ROAS). 

Popular in-content ad formats include graphics overlays, L-bands, picture-in-picture, dynamic brand insertion, and interactive ads, with interactive ads that have QR codes placed on the bottom left, which can be particularly engaging. These QR codes can specifically be used in fundraising or data capture.

Want to learn more about Amagi ADS PLUS?

  • Get in touch with our team here to learn how ADS PLUS can help connect you to political advertising opportunities. 
  • Learn more about Amagi ADS PLUS for advertisers and content owners
  • Download our Political Advertising overview here