The success of political advertising so far this has upended conventional wisdom, and the advent of digital media has put additional pressure on TV-heavy strategies.
While the significance of earned media has outweighed any paid advertising, mostly as a result of the “Trump effect,” candidates are still pouring money into various types of TV advertising.
With almost $7 billion expected to be spent between broadcast and cable TV this cycle, according to Borrell Associates, representing just over 60% of total political ad budgets, political marketing strategists have remained faithful to TV advertising.
Analytics firm Ace Metrix studied the impact and voter reception of 240 different presidential ads over the first quarter of 2016. The results are largely consistent with analyses earlier this cycle, while additionally highlighting successes in noncandidate run campaigns in recent months, particularly in the anti-Trump vein.
Ads supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders still do best with respondents across the political spectrum. Sanders ads took four of the top six spots in Ace Metrix’ study. With an average Ace Score of 444 in the political category and a maximum of 950, Bernie ads far outpaced the mean.
His ad “For Jobs For Us,” took top spot with an Ace Score of 570, and “Bull” came in second at 567, a spot illustrating the tough stance Sanders has taken against Wall Street banks. Mark Bryant, VP of politics and advocacy at Ace Metrix, told Red, White & Blog: “Bernie consistently does well with TV ads. He hits on the right themes, the themes that resonate with voters and drive interest.”
Bernie’s message is very disciplined, his focus on jobs, trade and financial regulation/reform is visible throughout his marketing strategy, from the podium to the TV screen.
The highest-rated GOP ad across both parties over the first three months of 2016 was an anti-Trump spot. The ad, paid for by the America Future Fund group, titled “Bob,” scored a 564. Bob is described as a “Trump University Victim,” and speaks of his dissatisfaction with the program. The ad closes out with “We Can’t Trust Donald Trump” written in white against a black background.
Bryant, when asked whether anti-Trump ads can be credited with inflicting Trump’s wobble in recent electoral contests, responded: “His own behavior, coupled with aggressive contrast (attack) ads, has chipped away at the edges of his support.”
Sanders had seven of the top 11 most effective political ads of the first quarter of 2016. Also at the top were two pro-Kasich advertisements, “Hinge” and “Progress,” with a Ted Cruz ad coming in tied for 11th. Hillary Clinton’s most effective advertisement came in at 15 on the list.