2020 Political Media Buying

2020 Political Media Buying

New Years Day 4705449 12802020 promises to be one of the heaviest political seasons.  According to Forbes, the spending will increase from $6.3 billion in the 2016 election to over $10 billion for the 2020 election. Certain states will be extremely difficult. Kantar identifies six of them for the 2020 Presidential election: Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida. Other states that will get some media attention might be Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and New Hampshire. 


As media buyers, we all dread this time of year. We know that TV will be an utter nightmare and we will be lucky if our schedules air with any resemblance to what we originally purchased as an annual buy. Daily makegoods and preemptions are the names of the game. So what are we to do?


It is important to remain on TV, especially around the news areas and news networks if you have an Adult demo. The audience will be watching these areas live and therefore, your clients’ message will be seen. Sports is another great area since it is usually watched live as well. Sports placement could be a good alternative to the news areas.


Another challenge with TV is the stations airing under-delivery during your flight or immediately following your flight. Being conservative with your ratings is recommended. You don’t want to be chasing your station into 2021. 


Radio will be a safer bet, but you will still see plenty of make-goods and preempts in this medium as well. Plus, you will have clients that want their commercials to be seen and not just heard. News, talk, and sports radio formats are areas that will be hit hardest by political.  


Another alternative is moving more budget into digital and social media. You can target your audience through analytics. The other benefit to digital and social is that you can get the results of your campaigns in real-time. You will know what’s working and what’s not and be able to react accordingly. I personally have seen returns as high as 600%. 


OTT (a streaming service offered directly to viewers via the internet. OTT bypasses, cable, broadcast, and satellite platforms that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content) is another area to consider. Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube, Apple TV, and Cable-on-Demand are just a few of these services. They have opened up new inventory especially to the young demos and are less likely to be preempted at this time. They offer new programming, exclusive programs, and syndication. 


I promise you will make it through this season, even though at times it will be a crazy rollercoaster. My advice is to prepare your clients now for the upcoming political season. Let them know that their TV and radio schedules are likely to experience movement, but you will do your best to keep the integrity of the buy. Discuss some of the alternatives such as digital, social, and OTT ahead of time so they can ask questions, and keep an open dialogue.  


Blog post written by Shirley Austin.

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