Don't Run Scared This Spooky Season From Being In The Political Mix

It’s officially spooky season -- that time of year when giant faux spiderwebs are draped over bushes, 10-foot skeletons haunt front yards, and shivers run down the spine of TV advertisers over the unavoidable impact of political ads in the marketplace.

But it doesn’t have to be so scary. With some general knowledge and a fair amount of preparation, brands can effectively navigate the political landscape to keep their campaigns moving alongside the political messages.

Political projections from AdImpact and Vivvix expect anywhere from $10 billion to $11 billion to be spent during the 2023-2024 election cycle, which would make it the most expensive of all time.   

We’re also seeing election cycles become longer as candidates and PACs kick off their campaigns earlier each year. 

This past second quarter, a full year and a half before the 2024 general election, just over $400 million had already been spent -- more than double the spend at the same time in 2019.



While political windows leading up to a primary or general election often see a significant amount of spend in local markets, these early investments reinforce that candidates and issue groups aren’t limiting their support to these narrow time periods.

As likely as a bellyache from too much candy, increased political spending will undoubtedly have an impact on the price and availability of inventory -- especially as broadcast TV is projected to retain the top share of political dollars.

So, what is the advice for brands looking to stay in the TV mix?

Don’t run scared. Instead, be informed, be early, and be flexible. 

Be Informed

The upcoming Presidential election is certainly a hot topic and what people tend to think of first when political advertising is discussed. But Presidential advertising is only expected to account for a quarter of total political spending, according to AdImpact.

State races for House, Senate, and Gubernatorial elections stand to spend the most, followed by down-ballot issues.

Depending on the race and how competitive it is, these local elections put more pressure on some TV markets over others.

Knowing the political windows and the competitive nature of the races in each market are key to making sure your brand stands out while maximizing value. 

Be Early 

While getting into the market early doesn’t guarantee a brand’s campaign will be impervious to the impact of political spending, it certainly can help. It allows brands to have access to more inventory up front and provides some time to weigh options as opposed to waiting until it’s too late and having limited choices.

Think of it as shopping for that Halloween costume before everything has been picked over so you don’t get stuck having to pull together random scraps to be the DIY version of Weird Barbie.

Be Flexible

Flexibility can take many shapes. It could mean adjusting your strategy during the planning process or pivoting after a campaign has been placed.

Whether you’re shifting a campaign by a few weeks, exploring additional dayparts to source inventory, or even redistributing weight from linear to streaming where there is less impact from political ads, being open and able to adapt quickly can help keep your brands’ campaigns thriving. 

With so much at stake, there is always some uncertainty around political advertising in the local marketplace, especially ahead of a Presidential election year.

Brands that prepare and understand market nuances will be better set up for success than those that do not, and hopefully campaign management will end up feeling less like a trick and more like a treat

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