SALES OFFICE BY SCOTT ROSKOWSKI

Local TV Still No. 1 For Political Campaigns

When considering which local medium provides the most efficient and effective advertising platform for political campaigns; let us first imagine a media world without local, over-the-air television. What local media would be left for the political pro's to evaluate, cable … digital? Each get a lot of ink, but media professionals understand the risks of putting their media-dollar-eggs into those baskets.

As we draw closer to the 2014 election cycle, campaign media strategists are planning their advertising strategies and focusing in on which media provide the most effective platform to reach key demographics, increase awareness and engage voters with their advertising messages.

When considering which local medium provides the most efficient and effective advertising platform for political campaigns; let us first imagine a media world without local, over-the-air television. What local media would be left for the political pro’s to evaluate, cable … digital? Each get a lot of ink, but media professionals understand the risks of putting their media-dollar-eggs into those baskets.

Let’s look at the consideration sets the way savvy media planners/buyers do to understand the impact on votes if campaigns move advertising away from local broadcast TV.

#1. Reach:

On average, local cable only reaches 50% of any TV market, compared with local broadcast’s reach to 100% of TV homes.  In some markets, if media strategists were to purchase spots exclusively on local cable they would be reaching as little as 22.8% (Boise, Idaho) of the potential voters in a given market. In fact, there are only 8 markets in the U.S. in which local cable has greater than 75% coverage.  Click for ADS chart

 

#2. Context:

In general, most local cable systems have limited ad time to sell during higher-rated cable programming. During the 2012-13 season, cable placed 8 shows in the Top 200 programs among Adult 35+ viewers (a key voter demo) accounting for less than 5% of all GRPs, which means any cable flight would require an abundance of frequency to be effective. With significantly less target viewer ratings points and ad inventory, local cable can often only offer broad daypart rotators to advertisers which compromise campaigns’ commercial environment and ratings delivery.  Click for 2012-13 TV Season data

BRAND CONNECTIONS

When you combine Points 1 and 2, it’s clear that targeting and addressability are really better techniques for buying cable and ADS distributors of content rather than as an alternative to Local Broadcast. The real “waste” is not in potentially reaching voters outside your target market, but in bombarding a small sub-section of your relevant voting population with excessive message frequency while ignoring as much as 77% of your potential voting base.

#3. Platform

Traditional TV viewing is still dominant across voting age groups despite the growing presence of a variety of entertainment alternatives in the home. On a monthly time spent basis, the most recent Nielsen Cross-Platform report showed that key voter demographics spend more than 20X as many minutes per month with television than Internet video or mobile. Importantly, the Nielsen data is based on actual behavior, not on what people say they do. Studies based on what consumers recollect have been proven to be empirically flawed in that people overstate digital behavior and understate traditional media behavior.

Monthly Time Spent With Media
Comparison of Hours: Minutes by Demographic

 

T12-17

A18-24

A25-34

A35-49

A50-64

TV v Internet Video

21X

9X

13X

20X

34X

TV v Mobile

12X

17X

23X

25X

42X

Versus the dominant 200+ hours per month that viewers spend with television, time spent with mobile video just doesn’t stack up despite consumer claims to the contrary.  In tracking actual behavior, Nielsen shows very modest gains in time spent over the past 21 months and even some declines. (Source: Nielsen Cross-Platform Report, 3Q13 vs. 1Q12 Monthly Time Spent with Media)

#4. Influence:   

Local broadcast television is the only medium that combines reach with relevance to exact the most influence on the American mindset. According to a January 2014 Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen data, American consumers view about 87% more local news than national cable news. TVB’s recent American Conversation Study added further validation to Pew’s findings by identifying news content as the top generator of offline, word-of-mouth conversation among consumers each day. Voters young and old are 30% more likely to cite advertising seen on local broadcast news as the source or spark of their conversations over cable. And when it comes to watching election returns, nearly two-thirds of adults 25-54 viewers choose their local broadcast affiliates to interpret the results. Why? Because only local broadcast can deliver news with both authority and personal relevance. And isn’t that the same duality that Americans seek from their government representatives?

#5. Cost:

Based on the industry cost-per-thousand measure, local cable is exponentially more expensive than local broadcast TV. Economics 101: efficiencies are always dependent on supply and demand. Local Cable operators have less advertising supply, and reach significantly fewer viewers. Lower unit rates for commercial time may appear less expensive than broadcast TV, but a simple analysis of cost-per-thousand viewers-reached will expose local cable’s premium pricing.

There is a lesson in an Analysis of the 2012 presidential election. The vital difference in the 2012 rivals’ media planning and buying strategies gave the Obama campaign distinct advantages. The most eye-popping difference was that although the Romney forces are estimated to have outspent Obama’s by a ratio of 55/45, Obama’s team actually purchased about 10% more Broadcast TV spots.

Over 80% of political advertising dollars allocated to TV are spent on local broadcast television because it is the medium that delivers voters where it most matters. Local broadcast television continues to be the dominant medium to build brands, quickly reach more voters and win elections. With looming primary and general election deadlines, savvy political campaigns will continue to allocate their dollars to the medium that has historically worked best and that makes the most sense in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. For this reason, local broadcast TV continues to be the primary political advertising medium, with local cable and digital additive in campaigns’ strategies.

Why do the most successful political professionals make the local media choices they do? Because they don’t want to put a single vote at risk.

Scott Roskowski is TVB’s chief development officer.


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