Media Buying When Political Advertising Is Heavy

Annual Planning, Marketing, Media Buying

Written by David Rogers

November 28, 2023
rogers advertising
Man sits on couch watching political debate holding VOTE pamphlet | Media Buying | Rogers Advertising

2024 will be another politically active year for candidates, parties, and special interest groups.  What does that mean to the regular advertisers who buy linear television on broadcast and cable TV?  It means your marketing campaign may experience significant disruptions which can impact your sales. Let me explain.

How Political Affects TV Buys

Broadcast and cable TV have a finite amount of inventory to sell to advertisers. Politicians are afforded special access and special rates prior to elections. Due to FCC regulations, these political spending rules occur during the political “windows” – usually in the spring, 45 days prior to Primaries and in the fall, 60 days leading up to the General Election.

Virginia Primary Election

June 18, 2024

Virginia General Election

November 5, 2024

As political campaigns purchase excessive amounts of commercial time during these windows, they cause regular advertising campaigns to be “bumped” or “pre-empted.” Both the pricing and the availability of commercial ad inventory can cause major problems for non-political advertisers who want to maintain their proper levels of visibility necessary to impact traffic, leads, and ultimately sales. Getting bombarded with pre-emptions – often at the last minute – does not allow advertisers the security and confidence they need to promote their business during these windows.

Altering Your Media Buying Strategy During Political Season

Fortunately, we live in a media age where there are more options than ever before to market your business, and these political periods are an excellent time to utilize non-traditional media. Some examples of non-traditional media include OTT/Streaming Video, Social Media Video, SEM/PPC, YouTube, Email, and more.

When planning your non-traditional media marketing campaign, a simple “1-2-3” rule of thumb applies. Utilize this rule to maximize your potential for success.

1 | Message aka Creative

2 | Schedule aka Media

3 | Spend aka Investment

Furthermore, when looking for alternatives to linear television advertising, consider options that deliver similar experiences and results as television advertising. The keyword here is similar. Among the key characteristics to look for are large audiences, visual elements in the creative, intrusiveness of the medium, low cost per thousands, and easy access to the internet which provides the ability to convert customers effectively.

Determining Your Budget

To begin, do the math:

Determine how many impressions TV typically delivers based on your investment. Once you have this benchmark, you can determine what budget will be needed to reach a similar number of impressions using alternative media.

A typical monthly TV budget in a mid-sized market can usually support several alternative media options like OTT/Streaming, Social Media Video, SEM, and other digital options based on the geography, demographics, and objectives of the campaign.

Primary metrics to consider are the total cost of the desired campaign, the total audience reach, the cost per thousand, the frequency of message, and the ability to convert the audience to customers.

Considering The Message & Delivery

Secondly, and equally important, consider the creative message and delivery.

A key element of any campaign is the advertising message. Consider how your message will be conveyed and received. Video ads are uniquely powerful because they use sight, sound, motion, and emotion to capture and influence the viewer.

Also, consider how and where a prospect is receiving the message. These factors can dramatically impact the ability to remember and respond to advertising. For creative that needs visual impact, OTT/Streaming along with platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are excellent and affordable options. Plus, they are often delivered on mobile devices which makes converting those viewers just a click away.

Video ads are a great way to tell a story and blend in with reels and stories. Ads that don’t seem so “salesy” (see our video for Toule by Dupré’s) are likely to gain more engagement, meaning more sales and longer view times.

If you have a lot of content to convey and more information is important, Email Marketing is a great option. Email marketing has the ability to laser target your desired consumer and allow for detailed information about your business, services, pricing, specials, and more.  It also provides multiple conversion opportunities and predictable conversion rates.

Search Engine Marketing continues to be the best option to reach a customer who is in the immediate “shopping/buying mode” and certainly should be part of a marketing campaign.

The lesson here is to plan ahead and do the math to avoid disruption of your marketing campaign during the political advertising windows. If you’re having trouble with your media buys, reach out to us – we’d love to talk about your goals and how we might be able to help, especially during the political season.

About David Rogers

David Rogers has held several positions including media planner/buyer, broadcast media executive, national marketing consultant, and agency President over his 30+ years of experience.

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