Why this election could be the nastiest in history & why it matters to retailers battling for the same ad space

Trump vs clintonTrump vs. Clinton. This could get nasty. All indications point toward heavy advertising and hype beginning with the Republican National Convention July 18-21, followed by closely by the Democratic National Convention July 25-28 and lasting through to election night, Tuesday, November 8. That means a lot of local and regional ads are going to get bumped. Here are some ways to make sure your retail marketing efforts aren't among those not airing.

In one of my previous posts, I talked about the 8 Ways You Can Keep Your TV Ads From Being Preempted By Political Advertising.  Much like current the presidential race and the corresponding news coverage, I’ve gone down a few rabbit holes and dark alleys in my search for new tactics to share with you on what you can do to make sure your upcoming advertising spots run and generate the exposure you are paying for.

The upcoming 2016 presidential election is not going to be your typical presidential race and is expected to have record audience levels and political ad spend. According to estimates from Nomura Securities and included in a recent eMarketer report, digital political ad spending will skyrocket in 2016, US political ad spending during this year’s presidential race will reach a record $10.20 billion compared to $6.26 billion in the 2008 presidential race and $8.81 billion in the 2012 presidential race. 

Breaking through political noiseThe 2016 political race is already dominating traditional media vehicles and non-traditional media vehicles, but that doesn’t mean that local advertisers have to suspend their own advertising campaigns.  By re-examining your current media strategy and tactics, you can put together an effective multi-touch, multi-platform campaign that will allow you to optimize your marketing dollars for maximum reach and frequency. 

It’s the law

  • Prior to the election dates, there are specific political windows that have an impact on rate levels within active markets. The political window for a primary is 45 days prior to the election date (January 16 – March 1, 2016); for the general election it is 60 days (September 9 – November 8, 2016).
  • Within a political window, all legally declared federal political candidates have the right to reasonable access and to receive the lowest unit rate/cost (LUR/ LUC). This means that stations cannot refuse a candidate’s ads and may not charge political candidates any more than the lowest rates that are charged to a commercial advertiser for the same class of time run at the same time as the candidate’s spot. Such conditions for establishing LUR often lead to rate increases within the political window prior to candidates buying spots and the near-abolishment of no charge bonus spots unrelated to under-delivery weight. 
  • Political issue advertisers are not held to any political window conditions and may advertise at any point in time throughout the election cycle. Issue advertisers often cause pre-emptions for other advertisers as they are willing to pay the highest rates on a station to guarantee placement. These higher rates are a factor in driving the overall volume of political ads.


Strong partnershipsBuild strong partnerships with your media vendors, they are your first and last defense during heavy political windows. Give them wiggle room and allow them to move dollars to protect your spots from being the lowest unit rate. And let them know they should call you to discuss options before they preempt.  

Go ahead and pay a little higher rate in news areas so that your spots are guaranteed to run and then make sure the CPP is maintained by negotiating low rates in areas that do not see the heavy political demand. Remember, those spots were placed to ensure that the messages designed to move this weekend’s merchandise runs before this weekend

Political advertising expenditures can have enormous (and unexpected) effects on retail sales marketing efforts so be prepared. 

  • Pay a little more for News programming
    • This ensures your spots will run
  • Don’t shy away from News programming
    • This year’s circus is expected to increase news viewership
  • Communicate regularly with station reps and management
    • This lets them know you are watching closely

Breaking through the cutter

This is not your typical political season and we expect increased pressure on local TV inventory, with elevated viewing in news programming, prime access news & entertainment programs like Entertainment Tonight, Insider and Access on general market networks and El Gordo y La Flaca on Univision.

TV orangePolitical advertisers try to capture audiences when television is at its highest, or when viewing is most “active”, that is when viewers are most tuned into the content of the program, such as Prime Time and local news. These dayparts can typically be the most expensive on a television station’s schedule. In addition to high cost, most mid to small-level retailers don't believe they have the budget to go toe-to-toe with political advertisers for the following reasons:

  • Advertising rates may increase during key election periods
  • Local commercials may be subject to heavy pre-emptions based on the requirement of local stations to accept political as well as issue advertising
  • Based on the number of political ads that a viewer is exposed to, fatigue may affect commercial effectiveness during these periods.

In a previous post, 6 Reasons To Use 15-second TV Spots to Power-Surge Your Media Budget we talked about how to use :15s in the same commercial break to help your media budget – this alternative spot length can also be used in a political period to keep your commercials from being pre-empted.   For the most part, political advertisers tend to lean toward :30 second spots making shorter length spots less likely to be preempted.  

Convert-buttonBy converting a portion of your :30's into :15's, you gain insurance the spots will run and increase your reach and frequency!  Increased frequency is needed for TV buys designed to drive traffic and sales. We find that including alternative spot lengths for TV stations gives them more opportunities to air our spots in coveted programming. By running :15 second bookended spots in the same commercial pod, for the price of a :30, you increase can increase your frequency 1.5 times while maintaining a strong reach. This works especially well in the typical retail event buy, squeezing all the spots into a 3 or 4-day period.

Things to consider right now:

  • Avoid relying on one advertising medium, such as television, during heavy political periods. Consider television websites as an alternate “screen” and run your :15 spot as pre-roll
  • Provide your station partners with acceptable dayparts that preempted spots/dollars can be shifted to, that may not have as heavy a demand like prime access and early and late fringe
  • Allow key sales reps (I call them key partners) to make decisions on your behalf that don’t require your approval, which might ultimately result in a delay and missed opportunity. Your sales rep should be an extension of your media team…if they are not, request a replacement.
  • Consider an email strategy if your list is current and accurate*. Email can be an effective means of providing a website link and/or coupon to your valued customers
  • Radio advertising accounts for less than 15% of political ad spending and can provide a valuable additional touchpoint for your campaign. Political advertisers rely on news/talk formats, so more traditional formats may be less impacted
  • If your commercial message can’t be conveyed in a shorter 15-second spot length, consider pairing your 30-second spot with your 15-second spot to create a 45-second spot

*If your email list is not current or accurate, it should be. Give our President of Yaffe Direct, Michael Morin, a call @ 248.262.9630 and get this important marketing tool working for you!

So, if you take the tips from my previous post and those in this one to heart, you should be able to get everything out of your retail marketing plan that you need – no matter how nasty the fighting between candidates gets and how many ads they throw at each other. Good luck!

Buffy O'ConnorBuffy O'Connor – Media Director


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