In Case You Didn’t Know, It’s An Election Year! Planning Ahead for Political Preempts
Political ads are everywhere. Kantar’s latest estimate projects that political advertising could total $8.0 billion this year. That number has increased from their previous projection from last August, which was $7.8 billion. And according to Kantar, this is a conservative number and not as dramatic as other industry estimates.
Political spending will increase across all platforms, traditional and digital. But the early estimate puts over $3.8 billion, the largest share, on broadcast TV. Cable and satellite at $1.4 billion, followed by digital and OTT/CTV at $1.2 billion each, and radio at $215 million.
Political advertisers are protected by the FCC and the Communications Act of 1934 when advertising on traditional media platforms. They are entitled to reasonable access, the lowest unit charge, and equal time. Besides the protection, candidate and issue advertisers also like broadcast TV due to its large reach and scale at a low cost per thousand.
This is all great for political advertisers, but as they buy up broadcast TV inventory, the stations are forced to preempt general advertisers. It is up to the individual station discretion how to preempt. Stations may decide to preempt based upon last in/first out, the lowest rate in a time period, or some will try to spread the preempts evenly among advertisers.
Any advertiser who utilizes broadcast TV as part of their media plan should be aware of political advertising in a market. It is important to know the political windows of your specific market. These windows are typically where political spending is the highest and where general advertisers will see the most preempted spots.
Broadcast Television advertisers can take some steps to avoid preemptions:
- Flight around political windows or dates closest to elections, if possible
- Buy around or decrease the percentage of the buy in news which is heavily bought by political advertisers. Expand your buy into other dayparts. All dayparts will likely see political demand, but by spreading out your daypart mix, you lessen the impact of preempts.
- Place buys early. If stations preempt based upon last in/first out, then it will help with your amount of preemptions if you are placed early.
- Be prepared for rate increases due to the lowest unit charge rate and high demand for remaining inventory.
- No charge bonus spots will typically not air during a political window, so heavy up bonus outside the political window.
In a highly contested political market with limited broadcast TV inventory and increased rates, non-political advertisers may need to re-evaluate their media mix and look at other ways to reach their target audience. Options to consider include:
- Broadcast TV Sponsorships. Sponsorships are often non-preemptible and secure. These will give an advertiser exposure on the broadcast stations they desire.
- Cable TV. Typically Cable TV does not see as much political activity in their zones as political targets the entire DMA. If an advertiser does not need to cover an entire DMA market, then cable zone advertising is a good option to consider to continue a video presence. Avoid news networks.
- OTT. Digital video does not have the same inventory issues or FCC provisions as traditional broadcast TV. OTT allows advertisers to reach the video audiences with greater levels of targeting and without battling the political preemptions.
- Radio. A spot schedule or Traffic, Weather, and News sponsorships on radio are also great options to consider as political spending on radio is minimal.
Advertising during a political year can be tricky. The Moran Group is knowledgeable and able to develop a plan that will reach your target audience efficiently during this year of high political spending.