Politicals heat up, DR advertisers sweat

In TV markets across the country, political advertising is reaching a fever pitch as candidates of all shapes, sizes and slogans gird their collective loins for the final home stretch to the November 7th general election.

The upshot for Direct Response advertisers will be increased preemption levels through mid-to late-November at least, often with little or no advance warning, as candidates, Political Action Committees and even local ballot initiatives inject millions into local TV ad buys.

Political spending is especially anathema to DR advertisers because political advertisers are guaranteed, by law, the lowest unit rate being paid in each daypart or show they place in. In this way, political advertising expenditures are not merely unpredictable (because the decisions to deploy these prodigious budgets are often based largely on the vagaries of public opinion in a constantly shifting political landscape), but uniquely problematic toward DR accounts, because DR accounts typically comprise the lion’s share of a station’s low rates. Hence, elevated preemption levels for DR advertisers.

Political spending should dip precipitously following the November 7th general election date – save for those isolated cases where run-off elections are needed – but its effects will continue be felt throughout most of 4Q, as displaced non-political dollars are crammed back into the system, often at higher rates to combat the crush of “make-good” schedules.

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