Trends in political media buying: consultant Q&A – Strategy & Tactics Media Buying Services

Trends in political media buying: consultant Q&A – Strategy & Tactics Media Buying Services – Brief Article

Mary Clare Jalonick

Bruce Mentzer, president, Mentzer Media

Chris Werner and Chris Brimer, president and media strategist, LUC Media

Jim Farwell, president, The Farwell Group

TO GET A HANDLE ON RECENT trends in political media buying, Campaigns & Elections submitted a series of questions to three media consultants, here are their responses:

C&E: Any new overall trends you see in political media buying?

MENTZER: Larger media schedules. As the audiences become more fragmented, and less interested, campaigns have increased the weight levels of the TV, cable and radio buys in the hopes of influencing them. As the noise level increases, media campaigns have had to “shout” louder.

WERNER & BRIMER: With the recent proliferation of political issue advertising, there seems to be a trend toward placing candidate buys in advance to secure the best time slots and, in some cases, better rates. In years past, buys tended to be executed weekly and on very short notice. Now, much of it is placed weeks, sometimes months, in advance.

FARWELL: There is more attention to targeting cable, even though cable can be a dicey proposition, especially in primaries. The fragmentation of viewing audiences is growing, making it more difficult to reach voters. This is requiring, in many cases, higher expenditures in order to achieve sufficient reach and frequency.

C&E: Will the trend toward putting more gross rating points behind each TV spot continue?

FARWELL: Yes. The fragmentation of markets requires that. However, it’s important not to over-generalize. For example, older and better educated audiences can be turned off by putting too many points behind a spot.

WERNER & BRIMER: Because of the growth of non-candidate political advertising, it seems likely the trend of more points behind spots will continue. Clutter during the political window hinders the candidate’s ability to “break through” with their message effectively. This scenario is critical when candidates’ don’t have a “knock it out of the park” media budget.

C&E: Are campaigns using more spot cable TV?

WERNER & BRIMER: Yes, and for good reasons. First, the expansion of acceptable program alternatives on cable (off-net and first run) has steadily eroded viewership to broadcast television, which necessitates the inclusion of cable advertising in a [TEXT INCOMPLETE IN ORIGINAL SOURCE]

WERNER & BRIMER: Newspapers certainly have a place in political advertising. Their subscribers tend to be highly educated people who are seeking information. This lends itself to “advertorial” advertising, which allows a candidate or issue group to further broaden and define their message and deliver it at the leisure of the reader and allowing them to digest the information on their own terms. The question remains, however, does the fact that it is less “interruptive” lead to greater recognition?

C&E: What about buying banner ads on Internet sites for political campaigns? Is this happening?

MENTZER: For the 1998 campaign cycle we saw an increase in Internet banner advertising requests from candidates. We ran none in 2000 and I suspect we will run none again in 2002. Until the Internet advertising system develops a more universal, and trusted, audience measurement system, it is hard to recommend banner advertising to candidates.

WERNER & BRIMER: Banner ads have yet to take hold in political advertising. I think people have an aversion to banner ads because of their being everywhere. They have become, in no small way, a form of media “wallpaper” — you know it’s there, you just don’t pay attention to it.

FARWELL: Not much. Internet communications is an area of potential, but so far, its utility lies in a very targeted range.

Mary Clare Jalonick is a political reporter for Congressional Quarterly Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Campaigns & Elections, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group