As we are moving through the 2016 Presidential election it becomes apparent that political ads dominate the airwaves and decrease the amount of “real estate” available to the general commercial advertisers.  Specifically, in 2016 the ad spending is expected to hit $11.5 Billion, an increase of approximately 20% from 2012 and a staggering $1.1 Billion or a 700% increase in digital ad spending for the presidential candidates. 

While these numbers are climbing, there are many different factors to keep in mind while planning out media purchasing for the remainder of 2016:

    1. The political window for 2016 is September 9 – November 8, 2016.  What this means is that stations cannot turn down a federal candidates’ ad or charge any additional fees to the federal candidate leading to a higher cost ad.  Resulting in the hiking up of media costs for commercial advertisers during this time period.
    2. Political candidates tend to purchase the majority of their TV time during the Early Morning News, Early Evening News and Late News.  These time slots are suggested to be used on a limited basis during the political window.  Secondary time slots are Primetime and Sports broadcasts.
    3. Physical location/placement of ads can be a large cause of media cost increases. Buying TV space leading up to a Primary election in a specific state can cause a rise in rates.  Additionally, trying to run an ad in a swing state as the election gets closer can also raise ad costs.

As a brand manager, how can you mitigate the risks of overpaying for your media time? Through some strategic planning and keeping the following in mind:

  • Plan and buy early
    • Lock in dates and times as soon as possible to avoid having to make an on-demand purchase during peak times
    • Be nimble, expect pre-emptions – it is almost a guarantee that a change to your plan will occur as the election comes closer and having a plan B ready when this change must occur is critical to contain costs.
  • If possible, stay away from the political window for TV ad placements.
  • Avoid the time slots that candidates tend to dominate.
  • Expect to pay 7-15 % more across all media channels as the election comes closer.  This way there are no surprises if this has already been built into your budget.
  • Consider utilizing alternate types of mediums – TV and digital are the two hottest items for this year’s election.  Radio, search, and social are not as popular with the candidates and consequently, costs for these mediums has not been as severely affected by the election.
  • Pay attention to the election climate – work to avoid advertising in a swing state as the election heats up.

This year’s Presidential election is shaping up to be the most costly for the candidates.  As the election comes closer the ads will begin to dominate TV audiences.  In order to keep your brand on the consumers radar without doubling your budget, just remember that above anything else having a strategic plan and being able to be flexible will have your brand winning in the eye of the consumer.
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