Flexibility Is Key to Keeping Political Advertising Spots from Bumping Your Commercials Off The Air Between September and November

While it may feel like we’ve been seeing national political ads for months or even years, the national political advertising window officially opened on Monday, September 7.

As a media director who manages significant traditional media schedules, I know that it’s more important than ever to be in constant communication with our media partners who can provide insight to current market conditions that can lead to transparent conversations with our clients.

Media supply and demand has never been harder to manage.

Not only are we dealing with preemptions due to breaking news related to COVID-19, but there are natural disasters, racial injustice, riots and other things never anticipated. We must also juggle and manage our existing schedules with political candidates and PAC (Political Action Committee) advertising governed and mandated by the FCC.

On September 8, CNN reported that President Donald Trump has spent $26.5 million on TV and radio and $7 million on digital. Former Vice President Joe Biden spent $39.1 million on TV and radio and $4.9 million on digital. Florida is a battleground state second only to Pennsylvania. Both candidates prefer TV and radio over other media options to persuade voters.

Now, more than ever, is the time for an advertiser to be flexible…

In order to withstand the barrage of political dollars flooding the airwaves without draining your media budget, advertisers should consider running on different days, opening up dayparts, or select different programs on alternative networks and stations that will still reach your target audience. As media experts, we can provide the proprietary research and data that will confirm that, even though you’re on a different platform, your message will still reach your targeted audience.

If those competitive and efficient rates that we negotiated back in January are lower than what the politicians are paying, it’s time to get creative:

  • Connected Television (CTV) or Over The Top (OTT) – CTV and OTT which are seeing less impact than traditional spot TV. OTT publishers (i.e. Roku, Hulu, Vimeo and Tubi) and video streaming providers are not being as “politically” impacted as much as linear TV. As a side note, Hulu does not accept political advertising.
  • Radio – Although radio is seeing less effects from political, news/talk and urban formats are experiencing more demand than other formats. Consider other formats. Audio streaming is a great option too. This is an alternative way to target radio station, music and podcast listeners. iHeartRadio, Spotify and Pandora are great platforms. Another side note is that Pandora does not bump advertiser spots with political ads.
  • Print/Outdoor – Other traditional mediums to consider include print and outdoor. The daily local and national newspaper continue to be important to consider, especially if your client targets older persons. Of course, their digital versions continue to grow. Although outdoor advertising was hit especially hard with COVID-19 and the lockdown, people are adjusting to a new normal and traveling again. People are driving to work, running errands, dining at restaurants and socializing more and more, albeit distantly. In fact, more people are choosing to drive to their vacation destinations, so billboards continue to be an effective option.

We are less than two months away the national election and demand for coveted commercial time will continue to increase through November 3. As media buyers and managers of one of our clients’ most valuable resources – advertising dollars, we must be creative, flexible and great communicators offering dynamic solutions during these unprecedented times.