The amount of cross-platform interaction with multiple screens (tablet, traditional TV, mobile, etc.) continues to rise. Studies show that as
many as 63 percent of live TV viewers are multi-tasking. That means our use of multi-screen advertising also needs to increase. Political campaigns are beginning to warm to the idea of placing hard-earned campaign dollars on nontraditional platforms to reach those notoriously hard to reach audiences of cord-cutters and those without cable plans. They are also beginning to take advantage of multi-tasking.
Local TV GRPs, Cable GRPs, Internet impressions, time shifted viewing and mobile impressions are all distinct measurements with a high degree of difficulty to combine. Of the major challenges facing the political media buying industry, this is one of the most important. While we are creating dashboards to monitor and compare ad spending and allocation in real time, we need a system that can create a uniform measurement across all media so we can value performance, efficiency and effectiveness across media.
This is especially true for emerging digital and IP-based technologies. If they are to fit into the mainstream market of media buying they need to integrate into the systems that currently exist or create a system that will work in parallel with current measurement systems.
And to be fair, this is a challenge facing the ad buying world industry-wide unless everyone considers the least common denominator of an ad impression a robust enough metric to be the solution. The current third party measurement systems will become less useful to political media buying agencies and campaigns as more upfront data is collected with custom research to plan and execute paid media campaigns.
This data will also serve as a tool to measure the effectiveness of media campaigns while they are in market, essentially in real time. It’s just a matter of time before all of this information becomes seamlessly integrated into a single system of front end research and back-end monitoring. Companies like Nielsen are trying to solve this problem through releasing new cross-platform measurement tools, which could be a boon to the company if widely adopted.
5. Population and Voter Trends
Our customers are voters. They are the 129 million people who participated in the 2012 election. And over the last 20 years, there has been a shift in who gets those customers. In 1992, Hispanics made up 2 percent of the electorate while the white vote stood at 87 percent. In 2012, Hispanics increased their share of the vote to 10 percent while the white vote decreased to 72 percent.
While campaigns in various regions of the country will need to pay greater attention to the statistics of their specific districts and states, it is clear that campaigns ignoring these demographic shifts will regret it.
In 2008, Team Obama spent $7 million on Hispanic outreach. In 2012, that number increased to $15 million and, in fact, preceded General Market advertising, which is unprecedented at the presidential level. Comparatively, the McCain camp spent just under $2 million on Hispanic outreach in 2008 and Team Romney spent about $5 million total in 2012.
Campaigns need to look at the demographic makeup of their electorate and determine which slice represents their swing voter. While the white vote at 70 plus percent still represents the largest piece of the electorate, your media budget may very well need to reflect the fact that there might be very few swing voters in that slice.
Media expenditures in a campaign historically follow a continuous upward slope. As the election nears media spend increases greatly—exponentially in many cases. There is a need to rethink that for many campaigns as the election calendar changes. For some states early voting begins in September and in-person early voting can start three weeks out from Election Day. This past cycle, roughly 30 percent of the electorate took advantage of early voting.
This isn’t the only reason to rethink pouring the bulk of a campaign’s resources into the final two weeks before Election Day, however. Attempting to escape the interminable clutter is another good reason. During the final six months of the 2012 campaign, just over half (51 percent) of campaign advertising expenditures on TV and Radio at the presidential, Senate and House level happened after October 1. When every advertisement in an ad break is a political ad, chances are your message is much less effective, not to mention more expensive.
Taking advantage of every day of early voting (just like we do on the last Monday before Election Day in November) is something that merits more consideration.
In the early 1970s, presidential campaigns purchased most of their advertising nationally across the three major TV networks with pollsters and media consultants watching broad indicators like personal favorability and ballot tests. In the 1980s, and into the early 1990s, media consultants abandoned such a strategy and localized presidential elections by advertising only in certain target swing states. Most advertising budgets were spent on the major local affiliates in key states.
With the dawn of the Internet and cable TV we see the same geographic strategies, but with more fracturing in the public audience. Media buying agencies are trying to understand not only what programs and networks voters prefer but how they prefer to watch and how they intend to interact with that programming.
Television viewing and consumption of TV programming is at an all-time high (34 hours per week on average), but how people watch, where and when are constantly evolving. Media buying trends that follow need to correlate persuasion and consumption with votes.