With less than five months until the general election on November 3, 2020, advertisers are under the gun to nail down their Q3 and Q4 media buys. And with many forecasting this to be the biggest ad spend during a political season in history, it’s crucial to be smart with advertising dollars.

How crowded will the space be? Magna Global is predicting the 2020 election cycle will produce $4.8 billion in net incremental ad sales, up 24% from 2016 – a record high.

How political ads affect other advertisers

So why does political ad spending affect ad spend and strategy? Because all candidates running for public office are given rights to the lowest unit rates (or LUR) available during the political windows.

These windows run for 60 days prior to the election day, which means even Q3 buys are impacted. With these lower rates, ad space is heavily purchased, and these ads receive precedence over other, non-political advertisers. The law offers equal ad time to all candidates.

Considerations when planning your media buy

  1. Be flexible. Understand that if you do purchase broadcast advertising during a political window, there is a decent chance your ads could be “bumped” out and not run. Be ready to put these dollars into another channel – maybe that means switching programming, moving dollars to another station, or even changing to a completely different medium such as digital advertising.Be sure to keep open communication with your media partners during these times, so you are aware of any issues before they happen or immediately when they arise. You don’t want to get to the end of your flight before you realize your campaign didn’t run as planned.
  2. Look at a multi-channel approach. We know that historically the majority of ad spending happens on broadcast – television, cable, and radio. While we know there has been a shift to more digital ad spending, broadcast still accounts for the majority. According to Kantar, 59% of advertising dollars spent during the 2020 presidential primary elections were spent on broadcast, with 23% spent on digital.Because of this, it’s important to consider a multi-channel strategy. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Consider a media mix that allows your messages to be seen across multiple platforms and touchpoints.
  3. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Sometimes it’s just not in your best interest to run advertising during this time. While some advertisers find advertising necessary due to seasonality or other factors, leave it alone if it’s not crucial to your business. The space is crowded and expensive, and audiences tend to be turned off by the political climate and are less likely to engage with your message.

Navigating media buys can be intimidating, even when it’s not election season. Need help with your media strategy? We’re here to help. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation.