Media planners see the world through a uniquely filtered lens. We are a separate breed, fluent in the language of impression delivery, engagement rates and target audiences, always hyper-vigilant, seeking evidence of media consumption habits and trending consumer behaviors. We enjoy dismantling a strategy just to figure out how different internal and external market factors will affect the outcome of a campaign. We question everything, base our recommendations on real-time data and benefit from growing digital technologies that allow us to optimize our plans almost immediately. There’s a sense of collaboration and creativity to this side of the advertising business that brings together clients, vendors and planners.
Since George Washington reluctantly ran (unopposed) for president in our nation’s first election in 1789, candidates have battled for the highest office every four years. Even in earlier times, the press played a huge role in forming public perceptions of party representatives. Delivery mechanisms were admittedly less robust in those days, with stump speeches and printed pamphlets serving the purpose that TV ads and social media shares accomplish today. Present day elections have seen an enormous increase in media investment, as candidates crave more and more media exposure earlier than ever in the campaign. Countless millions are spent on election ads that dominate new and traditional media “airwaves.” So far, Hilary Clinton has spent around $61 million on general election campaign ads. Her rival, Donald Trump, has relied less on paid media and more on free social media exposure so far, but pundits suspect that his team may pull the trigger on a larger paid spend in the weeks and months ahead. There’s no doubt, money talks in politics.
So where does that leave regular businesses that want to keep selling their widgets and promoting their brands within a designated market area during an election? How do these typical advertisers compete for available impressions when they are clearly outspent? Media buying experts say it is possible to keep your local message alive, even with many major media outlets submerged under the weight of large-scale election media spending. The key is to consider alternatives to more traditional media vehicles, and to think creatively about how to share your message on a combination of paid and unpaid media platforms.
Here are some options to consider as we head into the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign:
1. Pick your day parts. If you must appear on traditional outlets such as national TV or radio affiliates, avoid key day parts or drive times to keep your buy more cost-effective.
2. Go video. Inspire your team to develop alternative deliverables such as building a new video for your YouTube channel, featuring it on your website to boost SEO and sharing it across your social channels.
3. Dive in. Consider setting up a webinar or podcast. These interactive properties are easily shared and drive high engagement with audiences.
4. Get involved. Achieve increased PR exposure by holding your own local event, sponsoring charitable organizations or participating in a community service effort.
5. Get social. Bump up your organic and curated social media sharing efforts.
6. Got mail? Update your email template to fit your brand standards and blast it out to your audience along with a personalized discount or offer.
7. Take a break. Don’t be afraid to take a paid media plan hiatus in the weeks leading up to Election Day and resume your ad spend after November 8. [Of course, this option depends on the seasonality or sales goals for your product or service.]
A smart and seasoned media planning agent like Richardson Media Group will help you to uncover these and other alternative methods to reach your target audience during this crowded election season and beyond. Creative and affordable media possibilities do exist, even with the paid media marketplace saturated with campaign ads.
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