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TV is the Big Political Winner

By John Shelton October 04, 2012 | 11:18am

TV stations are cashing in as the political season hits the small screen. In a special survey of some of the top political advertising agencies, our clients overwhelmingly said that television was their top avenue for their political clients to deliver messages (followed by Digital, Radio and Network Cable). This makes sense for a few reasons. TV continues to be the top way for political advertisers to reach a coveted audience – the people on the fence politically who aren’t really looking for messages. You can reach this passive audience with quick, and as they hope, memorable messages. Political shops put TV on such a pedestal that all of those we polled feel it is just as important, or even more important, than it was just four years ago. Political advertisers can cast a very wide net with TV in hopes of capturing key votes.
 
Our ePort platform (the electronic bridge for media buyers to get their orders placed and for stations and rep firms to receive orders) has some very intriguing data during key political months. The amount of dollars flowing through our system in June increased 117% compared to June the previous year. Looking at July, the amount increased a staggering 303% (that’s a bump of $290 million for just that month). We expect big increases in TV spend throughout the rest of the year – especially in the swing states.
 
Our STRATA clients also inform us that prime TV ad inventory in the key swing state of Florida is gone – virtually sold out. That does open other avenues such as Digital and Radio to get spillover advertising as candidates (and brand marketing) scramble for ad space.
 
While Digital advertising continues to be hot, the audience is very different. Digital is tremendous for managing the decided voters and collecting money, but cannot stand alone for political advertisers. I like the term “feed the faithful” as that is truly what political advertisers are using Digital avenues for this season. TV often will be the key device to drive people to those sites and to social networks. All of the agencies we polled plan on using Facebook for their clients’ political ad campaigns (followed by YouTube and Twitter). You definitely go to where the people are, and millions are on Facebook. YouTube is interesting in that it has turned into a great “testing” site for visual messages hoping for viral marketing. Often you will see political advertisers use this popular video site to run edgier pieces that may not be “TV worthy” but still help push their agenda.
 
With an influx of advertising through the election, the Christmas advertising season will become compacted. It will start the day after the election and this constrained timeframe will drive up ad costs and lack of ad space will push ads outside of primetime. Ad dollars are bound to spill out over to all of the other ad mediums. This does happen every fourth quarter, but during a political year like this – it will be amplified tremendously.

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