Where are my ads? Navigating the election season from a media perspective
The election season always brings a challenge for advertisers and the impact is difficult to predict. The political media spending is flooding in and that puts local advertisers at risk of being bumped from their planned placements and schedules. There are two main reasons this happens during the political season:
Stations are required to accept political funds. Sometimes this is an agreed cap, and in other situations there is no cap.
They are also required to accept equal amounts from contested parties. This means if they accept $50,000 from Party A, Party B has the ability to spend the same amount.
The guidelines seem simple but as the actual spend increases, inventory becomes limited. When this happens, a war among the rates begins for advertisers who want to utilize the remaining available inventory. According to eMarketer, this season’s political spending is 63.3% higher than spend in the 2015/2016 season. TV spend will account for as much as 3.2% of all TV advertising and 66% of all political ad spending. A recent article by eMarketer titled “US Political Ad Spending Hits Record High as TV Continues to Dominate” provides a more granular look at what is transpiring.
So as an advertiser, what can you do about this?
Price hikes, limited inventory, and you have an ad campaign to run – OH MY! It is tricky to navigate but there are a few things that we do here at MassMedia to help our clients get exposure during this time.
Place early. The official political bump begins 45-60 days prior to the election depending on which election it is. For the general election that is roughly around the beginning of September and the dollars normally start flooding in shortly thereafter. As the bumps begin, stations will (hopefully) do so in terms of when the placements were contracted and committed and not favor “advertisers.”
Anticipate the bump. We take our client’s budgets and desired goals very seriously. We know in order to meet those goals we need to get creative with the media spend. One of the ways we do this is by anticipating the bump rate and place based on covering that percentage. This allows a better chance of our client getting their expected exposure. This can be difficult to predict though, so we look at historical bumped rate percentages and leverage our media relationships to help us work through the campaign season. We also make sure we reconcile each week so that at the end of the client’s campaign we meet our marks – not only with the client’s goals but with the spend as well.
Use a connected media buyer. It is hard enough to jump in and advertise on your own when it’s not a political season. So, expect further complications if you’re going to make the attempt on your own during the political season. As an agency, we buy media throughout the year. We develop relationships with all media partners and get some discount for the amount that we buy year-round. This allows us to not only negotiate the best pricing for our client, but also prepare and communicate during times like the election season.
It can be frustrating to advertise during the political season, but it helps to understand the media landscape and to ensure you have an advocate fighting for your exposure. Certainly, there is some unpredictability as the elections heat up – but we thrive on that. We’re nimble and transparent with our negotiations. And we’re here for you.
Give us a call at 702-433-4331 if you’re looking for a partner in your media buying strategy that can see through these testing times.