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Political Advertising: A Candidate for Client Troubles

Now that the Olympics are over, the next big event is the presidential election. And from a media buyer’s perspective, this means trouble. The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) estimates that $9 billion will be spent this year in political advertising (versus $7 billion in 2008) and 48% of that spending will be from the Super PACs and national political party committees. What does that mean for non-political advertisers? A cluttered marketplace!
The majority of this spending is in television, with the activity starting to pick up in early September. Based on how the 2008 election trended, this spending will build through the next nine weeks leading up to Election Day. In fact, the last five weeks leading up to the election accounts for 44% of the total political ad spend and in the last three weeks leading up to the election, political ads could account for almost 15-22% share of the weekly spots aired. Now, of course, this does vary by market and the good news (for most of our clients, anyway) is that New York is not a battleground state, so the spending is not expected to be as high as other markets. However, still expect to see a lot of political ads (and unfortunately, negative ones: to date, about 78% of political TV spots are). What’s an advertiser to do? Below are some strategies we are putting in place for our clients:

  • Decrease spending in the news dayparts when possible (news gets 32% of campaign spending). Political advertisers seek this programming first.
  • Increase campaign flexibility. Can we extend the flight to “make-good” on spots that did not clear? Can we “make-good” on other networks if our ads are consistently not clearing on one or two particular networks?
  • Avoid testing during this window. The market is going to be noisy and with all of these negative ads, results may be skewed.
  • Monitor. For our clients that will be on air during this time period, we need to monitor our schedules closely and be in contact with the cable operators and discuss our options.

So, stay tuned: this is going to be a busy fall season. Have any of the political ads influenced you yet?

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