It’s late October – most of the leaves have fallen from their branches, jack-o-lanterns adorn front porches, and political candidate signs are lining the sidewalks and front yards of our neighbors. Yes, political season is in full swing and candidates’ advertising budgets are strong and getting stronger. Media Post predicts a $6.55B ad spend for 2020, with 47% of that allocated to television.
If you’re in marketing, you know political ads can wreak havoc on your media schedule. But, knowing how the process works and safeguarding your media plan can ensure this period won’t negatively affect your marketing efforts.
The Election Advertising Cycle – Quick Facts
- Timing: The 45-day period preceding a primary election and the 60-day period preceding a general/special election are considered the political time periods in the media world.
- Political Rates: During this time political candidates are entitled to the Lowest Unit Rates (LUR) when placing their media schedules.
- Placement: Stations cannot refuse to run a candidate’s ad, nor can they show favoritism towards a particular candidate. Political advertisers generally favor live news and prime programming.
How This Will Affect Your Media Schedules
- Preemptions: Non-political advertisers will most likely experience preemptions to accommodate political schedules. This means non-political spots will get bumped out of the programs they were originally scheduled in.
- Higher Rates: Non-political advertisers looking to place a last-minute schedule should expect to pay higher rates since inventory is tight.
How to Plan Ahead and Manage This Disruption
- Diversity your media plan: A media plan with multiple tactics is recommended during the political season, to ensure target audiences are reached even if television schedules are disrupted.
- Continue open communication with your agency: Confirm they have established a swift makegood process to place any missed commercials back on air as soon as possible. Make sure they’re updating you on any schedule changes. Ask for their advice how to approach upcoming political periods.
- Be flexible: Prepare to be flexible with your media schedule during this time. Budgets may need to be adjusted to accommodate missed commercials. This could mean moving some of your television budget into a different medium, or into a different month.
- Be proactive. Talk to your station reps about their forecast for the political season. Understand the weeks which will have the most inventory constraints and build your plan around those.
At Wahl Media we manage both sides of this spectrum – we represent both political candidates and non-political advertisers. No matter who we’re representing we approach every change to their media schedule transparently, to ensure that everyone involved is aware of, and comfortable with, any changes made during this unpredictable season.