5 Tips for a 'Winning' 2020 Political Advertising Strategy

September 30, 2019

5 Tips for a ‘Winning’ 2020 Political Advertising Strategy

Key takeaways from Cox Media’s political symposium and what they mean for your upcoming campaigns

Earlier this month, Cox Media and Comcast Spotlight partnered to host “Power the Polls” – an expert-led political event focused on the highly-anticipated 2020 election season. Cox Media’s national sales team, clients and friends in the political community gathered at the NCTA headquarters to hear from our nation’s top political analysts – Chuck Todd and Charlie Cook – and other advertising industry leaders.

Filled with industry leaders, productive discussion, insights, and data analysis, the day produced two key themes and five actionable tips for political advertising in 2020. While there’s no “easy” button for winning political elections, there are a few best practices that can help candidates succeed. And all of them start with TV advertising (more on that later). Now, let’s take a closer look at how you can incorporate these tips into your upcoming political campaigns.

Unprecedented Voter Turnout Expected

Voters on both sides of the political aisle have strong opinions on our current president, which played a large part in the 2018 midterm election seeing the highest voter turnout since 1914. It’s likely that this will carry over to the 2020 election. In addition, interest in the 2020 election season right now (September 2019) is equal to what we typically wouldn’t see until next September.

Tip #1: Don’t Ignore ‘Swing’ Voters: Winning over swing voters will be crucial in 2020. Our analysts advised against a recent campaign trend that focuses advertising efforts primarily on “bringing out the base” and overlooking swing voters. Instead, use the data available to you (or your advertising partner) to thoughtfully assess all aspects of your target audiences and how to reach them.

Tip #2: Repetition is Key: This means buying early and buying more. In the past, it was important for campaigns to “hit their high note” right before election day. But now, according to Cook, you need to hit that note earlier…and hold it. Targeting voters often is important to drive your message home.

Data-Fueled Strategies = Higher Win Rates

To plan for the future, it’s often helpful to first look to the past. Lessons from the 2018 election season can positively impact how you approach and prepare for 2020, and it all starts with data.

Tip #3: Follow the Data: (Surprise!) Data and smarter advertising tools lead to informed media buyers, and informed media buyers make more efficient (and effective) campaign schedules that reach the audiences that can sway the election. This is where cable tv advertising comes in – no matter how big or small the target audience is, cable advertising partners can help you strategically reach an intended segment, based on insights such as whether a network or show’s audience is likely to vote or support certain platforms. This approach also helps reduce ad waste.

Tip #4: Start Early & Secure Reach: There is a clear connection between earlier start dates, ad frequency, and overall win rates. Winning candidates averaged about 12 weeks of air time while the majority of advertisers were on air for six weeks or less.  For frequency, the average winning candidate aired roughly 2,500 commercials per week, while the average unsuccessful candidate ran fewer than 1,900 TV ads per week.

Tip #5: Diversify Your Video Buy: Drive incremental reach by integrating multiple video advertising solutions. A 2018 candidate was able to increase their reach from 35% to 70% of their target audience by incorporating video on demand (VOD) to their linear TV campaign. Embrace ways to diversify your campaign through digital ads, VOD and over-the-top (OTT) streaming services, particularly for younger voters.

Click here for more political advertising strategies you may not have considered.

The 2020 election is fast-approaching, and while each political cycle comes with its own host of unpredictability and moments of surprise, relying on expert analyst predictions and past data can help you plan ahead as much as possible. Cox Media and our industry peers are looking forward to the 2020 election season and are proud to collectively have the viewership data, solutions, and next-generation tools to efficiently and effectively reach candidates’ target audiences.

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