The Overwhelming Barrage of Political Ads: Is the Bloodbath Over Yet?
07/02 in Media Strategy
By: Todd Alvested
This year's political campaign season will see an estimated $9-$10 billion in political ad spending, including a record $3.2 billion in TV advertising just from the presidential candidates (a 52% increase from 2008). In fact, 2012 spending has already surpassed the total amount spent in 2008. According to a study by research firm Borrell Associates, spending by PACs (political action committees) and the Super PACs (independent-expenditure only committees) will reach almost $4.8 billion, or about half of the total political spending. There will also be thousands of congressional, statewide, and municipal races that are included in the total projected spending figures.
During what’s referred to as the Political Window, which started September 7th for the General Election and lasts until Election Day on November 6, candidates are guaranteed to get the lowest unit rates (LUR) from TV stations. This along with the higher demand on inventory because of the heavy volume of spots taken up by the candidates and PACs/SuperPACs may result in increased rates for advertisers on the remaining inventory. While the PACs/SuperPACs aren’t guaranteed the lowest rates, their sheer volume of advertising will increase demand and cause heavy pre-emptions for advertisers in the most sought after dayparts.
All of this means possible chaos for media buyers and advertisers, and their media buys. TV is impacted most significantly with over two-thirds of the political spending, but there are best practices that media buyers can do to soften the impact on their clients’ schedules if they must advertise during this time period.
5 Best Practices:
- Avoid news dayparts, especially late news, and primetime as much as possible. These dayparts are the most sought after by political advertisers.
- Shift TV budget from broadcast stations to cable networks. With the exception of news networks and niche networks (i.e. BET, MTV), cable does not receive nearly the volume of political advertising as broadcast does (Borrell Associates projects less than $1 billion in political advertising on cable in 2012).
- Shift media budget from TV to other media such as radio or online. Aside from news/talk stations and news-oriented websites, these media won’t be impacted nearly as much as TV. Online political spending is projected to increase by over 600% this year compared to 2008, but at an estimated $159.2 million (Borrell Associates) it will only account for about for about 1.5% of the total political spending.
- Place buys as far out as possible before rates increase due to the demand.
- Avoid “test buys” during the political window. The heavy pre-emptions and increased ad clutter may make the test results unreliable.
How has this year's record-setting election season affected your campaigns? Let us know in the comments below!