It’s an Election Year…So What Does it All Mean?

by Bonnie Rothenstein | February 17, 2016

vote buttonsThe Presidential election in 2012 broke records for spending levels. Predictions for 2016 are saying this year will be way bigger than what we’ve seen in the past, with a huge number upwards of about $8 billion being spent during this political season. As you can imagine this can create headaches for buyers and clients alike.

During a political season, a buyer’s world can be turned upside down. With many rules and regulations the stations have to follow, negotiations take on an added twist during a political year. During the political windows, 45 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election, candidates are entitled to pay the lowest unit rate (LUR). The LUR is the lowest rate on the station for any given time period. Politically-fueled ads flood markets at different times depending on the political window for a region or state, but the entire country feels the effects year-round during Presidential elections.

The biggest challenges faced by buyers during a political season are:

– Rate increases

– Tighter inventory during all TV dayparts, but especially in news areas

– Pre-emptions due to issue advertisers paying higher rates

– Stations typically are unable to air bonus spots during political windows

The best action a buyer can take is place schedules early in any market. Good news is we have already taken care of that as the majority of our buys are placed on an annual basis. The buyers will continue to monitor markets on a regular basis. We realize the importance of your schedules airing so we will be in contact with stations to manage inventory and evaluate make-good offers as necessary. Check out Lee’s recent blog post Preempts and Makegoods: Money on the Move to learn more about this process.

We also strive to score as much bonus/added value as possible for your firm, but political years can decrease the amount of freebie spots the stations are typically able to air. This forces us to think outside the box and secure other means of added value like free weather or traffic sponsorships, snipes, station IDs/billboards, a digital presence or a bonus holiday package.

Of course, our number 1 priority is ensuring your firm’s success. With our years of combined experience and processes in place, you can be sure we are always looking out for you.