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  • Frank Gussoni

Politics Can Derail Your Regional Media Buy

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Know the political potholes to keep your media campaign

effective and on budget.

Did you know that media outlets are required by law to accept all political advertising campaigns and offer them the lowest established rate for their ad placements? It doesn’t matter what the outlet’s political affiliation is or whether they are interested in their business.

They must take it, it’s the law! Furthermore, they are audited immediately following the campaign to verify that the candidate received the lowest rates during their campaign. Even more obnoxious is that without warning a candidate can make a last-minute buy, literally within one day’s notice and bump any other client from their ad placement, no matter how far in advance the other media buy was placed. It’s called LPR (lowest political rate) and it can be very disruptive to a mid-market company’s media schedule and certainly increase the cost of the media budget substantially if not handled properly.

Knowing how to buy outside the political window or knowing how to posture the specifics of the buy are imperative to its success and costs. When possible it’s beneficial to get ahead of this situation and buy advertising before the political season where the regional company has a better chance to establish their own LUR (lowest unit rate) prior to the political rates being invoked. This takes lead time.

Inventory can also be a major issue during political seasons. Think about the number of ads that appear during the height of the political season and except for national campaigns which affect even the largest national advertisers, most campaigns are state or local campaigns and are more apt to interfere with regional size companies.

Keep audience demographics in mind when considering where to place an advertising campaign during this time. In most markets some outlets and networks receive the mother-load of the political business. So, when possible dodge the political bullet by buying around their ads. It’s tricky but can be done well if it’s taken into consideration when orchestrating the buy. In most cases, women between 30 and 65 are a politician’s main target. However, even if that is your target you can effectively buy around the campaign by knowing all your viable options. Your media agency needs to know if the targeted audience is parallel or perpendicular to a political audience.

Keep in mind the media category. Traditionally TV receives more business than radio and OOH is more useful for a local candidate than a state-wide candidate. Digital is anyone’s guess and there is more than enough to satisfy all needs.

Time is also a factor on two other fronts. Political ads are traditionally 30 seconds long. So, standalone 15s or bookends can be a very helpful. Staggering buying times can also move you outside the political rate window.

A mid-market regional company may include across many markets and states. Elections can go on in one market and not another, rates and opportunities for the same media will drastically vary. Your best defense is a knowledge media agency that can micro market buy.



President & Founder of A3 media.

We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

Frank’s Take provides uncommon sense media buying advice for regional and mid-market businesses.

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President & Founder of A3 media. We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

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