Mediagistic Blog

It’s an Election Year. What’s Going on with Your Media Schedule?

Lindsay Hamill

One of the biggest untold stories of the 2016 election is how political advertising affects media campaigns. As the candidates take to the airwaves, their ads can preempt (or “bump”) your spots, relegating your media to the back burner.

If managed incorrectly, these unexpected bumps can wreak havoc on your media schedule and diminish the effectiveness of your campaigns. Read on to learn why this happens and what you should do when this occurs.

The Nuts and Bolts of Election-Cycle Advertising

To appreciate the potential impact of November’s election on your media schedule, you first have to understand how advertising works during election cycles. State and federal laws regulate how and when politicians can advertise online, in print, on TV, and on the radio.

According to those laws, all candidates for public office are entitled to the lowest unit rates, or LUR, available during the pre-election windows. For the general presidential election, that begins 60 days before Election Day. Only federal candidates, such as the candidates for President, enjoy reasonable-access rights, meaning stations can’t refuse to run their ads and must grant the candidates some access to all times of the day.

From a scheduling perspective, this can cause significant problems for the stations. For example, WMUR-TV, New Hampshire’s biggest TV station, struggled to accommodate all the candidates in weeks before the state’s first-in-the-country primary. While candidates like Marco Rubio reserved time long before the election, the law demands that the station treat all candidates equally. In other words, when Johnny-come-lately candidates asked for time closer to the election, WMUR had to scramble to accommodate them, bumping other advertisers in the process.

How Elections Can Affect Your Media Campaign

As the election nears, campaign ads may preempt your media. Even for time slots without any political ad preemption, you’ll likely see costs rise between 10 to 200 percent for a branded spot.

Aside from preparing for those costs, you’ll also need a media strategy that allows you to pivot during the pre-election window. You can proactively combat the imminent election’s effects by diversifying your media campaign to include several different communication channels.

We can’t stress the importance of this enough: During an election cycle, it’s a sure bet that your schedule won’t run completely as ordered. Plan ahead with tiered (slightly increased) rates if necessary, for the pre-election window and be prepared to negotiate make-goods where needed.

What to Watch For During an Election Year Media Campaign

All of this means that stations need to be monitored closely so, as soon as a spot gets bumped, the response is fast enough to ensure optimal results. We take great care in ensuring that our schedules deliver as promised through election years and outside of them. Staying on top of your schedules and maintaining a good relationship with our reps will help mitigate any election-related setbacks to your campaign.

As a full-service agency with an expert media planning and buying team, Mediagistic will make recommended schedules with election cycles in mind and stay on top of those schedules when they’re affected by candidates’ spots. Our quality control and monitoring processes are designed to ensure that, when spots are inevitably bumped, they get placed back into the schedule and continue to run on that schedule. Don’t let your media schedule become a mess this election year — let us do all the work and make sure you get the most out of your media dollar.

Lindsay Hamill is a Senior Key Account Media Manager at Mediagistic.

Image via Pixabay

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