Digital advertising exchange Rubicon Project is opening an office in Washington to capture some what is expected to be nearly $1 billion in digital advertising spending by political campaigns.

Playa Vista’s Rubicon runs a digital advertising exchange that allows buyers to place their advertisements in dozens of websites at once. Its so-called programmatic software automates the buying of digital advertising so that individual sales don’t have to be made. Advertisers can also use the company’s technology to target specific individuals based on their geography, demography or by matching them to campaign rosters of potential voters.

The company predicts several factors will drive more advertising spending online in 2016, including a saturation of television advertising, campaign interest in targeting and a need for campaigns to be more efficient.

“This is really the dawn of a different type of campaign that we’re going into in 2016,” said Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Dallas Lawrence, who will serve as the company’s political advertising advisor. “Major buyers are gearing up for using programmatic.”

To back up those predictions, Rubicon cites estimates by news agency Reuters that digital advertising spending could hit nearly $1 billion in 2016 and a survey by advertising software maker STRATA that says 85 percent of political agencies plan to use programmatic ads in 2016.

“The real shift that we’re going to see this year is campaigns are no longer saying, what sites do we want to be on? They are saying, what voters do you want to reach?” said Lawrence. “There’s much more interested in geography and much more interest in deep data analytics for campaigns.”

Rubicon envisions some campaigns would likely use advertising exchanges as a means to bolster their targeted door-to-door canvasing. If a campaign was canvasing a particular neighborhood, for example, they could coordinate with an online advertising campaign to reinforce their message, said Lawrence.

“You could serve that neighborhood, that precinct, with ads,” he said. “That could be (served) hours before or even minutes before they knock on the door.”

Additionally, Rubicon expects campaigns to be particularly interested in using exchanges to buy native advertising, mobile advertising and purchasing ads on premium websites.

“They don’t want their ads spread across the long tail of random blogs,” said Lawrence. “They know the reader is more engaged on premium sites. There’s brand equity to being aligned with a premium site.”

Rubicon’s D.C. office will start as a one-person operation run by Director of Political and Advocacy Buyer Ad Sales Theresa Mueller. Lawrence will work between Rubicon’s L.A. and D.C. offices.

The company said it plans to stay in Washington long-term to benefit from the city’s growing base of tech workers and steady advertising spending.

“The D.C. advertising spend is evergreen. It is 365 days a year. Tens of millions of dollars are spent year round,” said Lawrence. “There is a consistent spend there regardless of the campaign season.”

Technology reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at greim@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @garrettreim for the latest in L.A. tech news.

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