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Media buying tips for midterm elections
May 4, 2010 | Inga Rundquist

You may not like what you’re about to hear, but in just a few months our airwaves will once again be filled with countless political ads full of promises, finger pointing and baby holding. Yup, that’s right – the 2010 midterm elections are just about 6 months away.

What does that mean for you? Well other than that little matter of casting your vote, you may also need to make some adjustments to your marketing plans – specifically to your media buying.

Purchasing airtime during a political campaign – especially broadcast TV – can be challenging, frustrating and most definitely expensive. It’s not too early to start thinking about how you will adjust your marketing during this time period. We’ve put together some tips for you:

  • Start planning early. Be aware of the upcoming political campaigns and schedule your major promotions around the midterm elections. It’s probably not the best idea to introduce a new product using TV or radio in October of this year.
  • Find out when the political windows will take place in your market. The "political window” is the 45-day time period before a primary and 60 days before a general election during which stations are legally bound to charge candidates the "lowest unit rate." Demand for airtime during this time period will be very high. Also, be prepared for increased rates outside of these political windows when broadcasters do not have to charge lowest unit rates. During this time, rates will go through the roof.
  • Adjust your schedule. If you were planning on a broadcast TV or radio campaign this fall, re-evaluate your goals and determine if that’s really the best way to spend your marketing budget. Is it imperative to run your spot during the campaign? Waiting 1 or 2 weeks after the election can save you precious advertising dollars.
  • Find a way to cut through the clutter. You know as well as we do that it doesn’t take many political ads for us to tune out completely. Find another way to connect with your audience. Maybe a viral campaign that gets people talking would be a better investment.
  • Finally, be prepared. If you’re willing to compete with the deep pockets of political candidates and pay the big bucks for a TV or radio campaign this fall, be prepared to potentially get bumped. With so much demand for airtime, the highest bidder will get the spot.

With so much "noise” filling the airwaves, election season can be a challenging time to connect with your audience. But it’s nothing creativity and lots of planning can’t overcome.

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