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The Broadcast Monitoring Blog

Why TV Advertising Still Counts Among Voters

In early November, after months of campaigning, Democratic political candidate Bernie Sanders dropped $2 million on his first TV ad buy. The one-minute biography spot will run over 10 days this month in Iowa and New Hampshire.

It’s now less than a year to the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, and many of the campaigns are locking their television advertising strategies in place. According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis, TV spending in this election cycle will reach $4.4 billion, of which $3.3 billion will be spent advertising on local broadcast TV stations. 

The emphasis on local isn’t surprising. With such a large field, candidates will have to spend heavily in these smaller markets to stand out. And that’s exactly what’s happening. As of the end of September, three of the candidates already had spent $22.5 million for more than 35,000 commercial spots on Iowa TV stations through Feb. 2.

With all the buzz around social media, it may seem puzzling that campaigns drop so much money on television. But while these channels certainly play a role in building support, television is still the most pervasive platform. According to Nielsen, not only does television reach 87% of adults 18 and older, but adults of all ages spend more time – about 7.5 hours a day – with television than any other platform.

So TV ads clearly help candidates get their message in front of voters. But, this year, campaign managers face a significant challenge: How can they get their candidates noticed on the overcrowded airwaves? 

There is one way for them to get a competitive edge: Use broadcast monitoring to help develop better messaging, and to create and measure media strategy. Here’s how that can work. 

  • More Effective Messaging

Campaigns can craft stronger, more memorable messages when they know what they’re up against. Broadcast monitoring enables them to evaluate an opponent’s advertising messages as they are introduced and evolve, and to react quickly. Campaign managers can use this intelligence to craft counter-messaging and shift their media strategy accordingly.

Broadcast monitoring can also help campaigns track shifts in the opposition’s platform statements. Candidates often align themselves to new polling data, but in doing so, they may contradict statements made early in a campaign. By monitoring opponents from the start of the cycle, campaign managers are able to store clips of positions opponents have taken previously. Once platforms are formalized, these clips can be reviewed and if discrepancies are noticed, they can be used to powerful effect. 

  • Evaluate and Measure

With so much money riding on TV advertising, campaign managers must take advantage of every opportunity to assess the effectiveness of their media strategy. Broadcast monitoring provides important metrics such as local publicity value and viewership. In addition, campaigns can capture and store clips, including the segments that bookend the ad.

  • Keep an Eye on Every Market 

With most advertising budgets being invested in local markets, campaign managers can’t afford to have less-than comprehensive access to TV advertising clips. Without full coverage, campaigns would have an incomplete picture of the media landscape – and they risk missing important clips. Thus, it’s essential to invest in broadcast monitoring that covers all local, regional, state and national markets. That’s why TVEyes, for example, covers network affiliates and top outlets in all 210 US DMAs, as well as national cable stations. 

  • Gain Insight into Opposition Strategy

In addition to measuring their own TV ads, campaign managers must constantly evaluate the opposition’s campaign. Broadcast monitoring can provide useful insights into another campaign’s media strategy. For example, campaign managers can estimate spend by station and the local market reach for each ad.

Given the heavy spend on TV advertising, especially on the local level, campaigns need to have tools that enable them to manage and evaluate their media strategy. With broadcast monitoring in place, campaign managers will find it easier to react to opponents’ moves and to adjust course.

For more tips, be sure to download our ebook, “Broadcast Media Monitoring Can Help Your Candidate Win an Election.”

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  • Monitor and research coverage.
  • Develop strategy.
  • Report successes.
  • Contain a crisis. 
  • Media train executives. 

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