Oh no, here we go again! Over the next few months, American TV viewers should brace themselves for a record number of TV commercials. It's a race to raise the most capital in order to utilize the still undefeated influencer of human opinion? Television. Although the internet continues to make strides at every election, it still cannot interrupt, persuade and plant thoughts and images the way television does. And the master manipulators of TV have been at it for 60 plus years, which is far longer than any grizzled Internet specialist. So we know that television advertising will still garner the lion's share of these massive budgets and the viewing public will have to suffer through more political commercials than during any other election in history. What will this mean to other advertisers?
Less inventory. Even if you're advertising on stations and networks that don't typically attract political dollars, there will likely be a trickledown effect. Traditional and DR advertisers will need to spend their budgets somewhere, so when their favorite choices are sold out or priced out of reach, they'll spend on the lower profile stations/networks. These are the areas where smart DR advertisers make their mark, the little gems that usually fly below the radar. It's a solid bet that the entire commercial marketplace becomes over sold and pricier.
More tune out. Since there are so many political ads, and most are not compelling, viewers tend to "tune out" the commercials more often than usual. This clutter means that, unless you have a great commercial and a winning product/service, expect to see a jump in your cost per acquisition. Face it, you'll have to spend more to generate less business, but we can't shut it down for three months either. A recent pleasant surprise has been the Olympics. We expected to see a drop off in TV responses as viewers tuned in to see these Olympic games in record numbers. There are two theories here. One, don't advertise against high rated programs because nobody will see your ads. Two, go ahead and advertise because more viewers are watching television and may channel surf into your ad. Many traditional advertisers follow the first theory and I suspect this is why we did so well during the Olympics. General advertisers cut back and more remnant inventory opened up for DR advertisers. I don't expect the same during the upcoming political war. DR advertisers may end up as collateral damage.
Local vs. National. The biggest impact will be definitely felt on the local level. Most local stations will be a battleground between political candidates and auto dealerships. This will make it nearly impossible for DR advertisers to thrive in a local broadcast environment in Sept/Oct/Nov.
In the end, this is all new territory. The gloves have come off and the budgets are big enough to knock out the small contenders. So far, we are only a few months from the election and I have to admit that we are not seeing much damage yet. Not nearly as much as I expected, and I've been dreading this election for two years now! From having been through more elections than I care to remember, I know this will change in October/November. However, we have also seen the development of several new National networks, cable and broadcast, so we now have more choices than ever. Only time will tell, and the politicians will certainly going to be buying a lot of time!