As a media buyer, it is my job and objective to constantly strive for the best placement for my clients within strict budget constraints and to find the perfect locations that generate the most frequency, reach and gross rating points. Easier said than done during a political window! The rates increase during this window, the most cherished time slots are constantly booked and it would take double the rate to bump out the current advertisers – most of which are political advertising. The closer it gets to the voting day, the more difficult it becomes for local advertisers to compete.
To make matters worse, local businesses get pushed out of the media during the political window and regulations that intend to make it fair for candidates to have equal time and opportunity often make it unfair for everyday advertisers who are loyal media buyers all year round. Higher rates, constantly being bumped out of their regular timeslots, and make-good schedules being presented on a daily basis all contribute to disruption for these local businesses.
The reps for each medium also have more work trying to maintain their local clients while adhering to the political regulations, more paperwork to fill out, etc. But, they are being financially compensated for this additional work. So, how do you compete as a local business for air-time during a political window? I would say, unless absolutely necessary – DON’T. At the beginning of the window, a business can still get good rates and placement, but as soon as it nears closer to the date of voting, hold off on placing and look for the weeks after the window is closed – the rates will go back down and the availability of the time slots will again be of your choosing.
What is the fix for this problem? Good question! The government might need to review the political advertising regulations and understand that currently they put a strain on local businesses’ opportunities to advertise their wares.