If it seems like you're seeing a lot about the upcoming 2016 election already, you're right. Everyone is getting in the game earlier than usual—and if you're an undecided voter, candidates are finding better ways to reach you, thanks to programmatic advertising, which is automated buying and placement of ads.
"There's only a quarter of a million people tops that are going to impact the next election," said Jeff Green, CEO of ad tech firm The Trade Desk. "Digital gives you the ability to speak to the right issues to the right people."
Political campaign ad spending is up 20 percent compared to the same time period during the 2012 election cycle, according to Borrell Associates. Each candidate is spending an all-time high of more than $50 per eligible voter.
Dan Kelly, director of sales for the Cox Media Group website Rare, explained that politicians usually start advertising heavily when it gets close to election time, but that has changed.
"The field is so wide, and no one wants to be on that junior varsity stage, that 5 p.m. debate stage. It means you have to start spending," said Kelly.
Programmatic advertising agencies break down online user behavior to help candidates figure out where they should place their ads to reach the people most likely to put a check mark by their name. These ad tech firms range from divisions of Google and Facebook to more specialized companies like Rubicon and The Trade Desk.