Political campaigns are about winning. As we head into the 2016 election cycle, campaign managers and their media strategists would be well served by keeping in perspective the myriad new digital advertising platforms available to them and their utility in helping them win, because while digital tools are a great supplement to the tried and true method of reaching voters through local broadcast television, a political campaign focused primarily on digital tools risks losing if decision-makers don’t keep the facts in mind.
Advertising on local broadcast television is the most powerful means to reach and influence the largest bloc of voters. As campaigns across the nation rev up their advertising efforts in the coming months, here are three facts to keep in mind:
1) Selective Reach: Campaign ads are not effective if the right people don’t see or hear them. Broadcast TV has time-tested metrics that provide campaigns with a much clearer picture of who is watching a particular channel/program, allowing them to allocate resources to reach their targeted demographics. Local broadcast television reaches more voters than any other platform. Digital advertising, meanwhile, is still subject to significant viewability and fraud issues with only 44 percent of traffic coming from actual humans. The other 56 percent is bot traffic, according to Incapsula research. According to the Association of National Advertisers, fake traffic will cost advertisers $6.3 billion this year! The undisputed fact is that local broadcast reaches 100 percent of the market, more than twice the impact of social networks or the web, according to GFK Multimedia. Reaching everyone over broadcast TV is not waste, it’s winning -- especially since you’re reaching potential voters, not bots.
2) Maximum Usage: While all political advertising platforms have their place in the media mix, none can compete with local broadcast TV in terms of usage across all voter demographics. Adults 18+ spend almost five hours with television a day, compared to thirteen minutes viewing online video on their computers, according to Nielsen. No other media platform comes close. The reach and scope of broadcast is the reason even companies like Google spent about 78 percent of their $569 million U.S. ad budget on television last year, compared to just 15 percent on Internet display advertising according to Kantar Media. In fact, television works well with digital, driving the lion’s share of digital usage due to its scale.
3) Effectiveness: Broadcast TV is by far the dominant medium in political ad spending and this trend will continue for years to come -- because it works. Local broadcast television remains a critical element of winning campaigns, especially the most difficult races. A recent report by Kantar Media predicts a record $4.4 billion will be spent on television in 2016. Campaigns aren’t in the business of wasting precious resources. They advertise on television because it wins elections.
Campaigns know exactly what they’re getting when buying spots on local broadcast television: selective targeting at scale. Television remains a resilient force in political advertising precisely because it is effective -- and measurable. While campaigns can, and should, supplement this tried and true medium with other platforms, including digital, winning campaigns know that all politics is, indeed, local broadcast TV.
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