While estimates of total advertising in the 2022 midterm election cycle range from $7.5 billion (BIA) to $7.8 billion (Kantar), there are many ways for radio to increase its share of the political ad pie, Revenue Development Resources President Mark Levy says in a Wednesday webinar from Alabama Broadcasters Association (ABA) focused on increasing political ad dollars in 2022.
“We thought when the pandemic hit hard that people would find sources of news and information other than broadcast, and that wasn't the case,” Levy says. “It's really held its own.”
There are as always, many checklist items sales forces need to remember when it comes to political advertising, such as the limited timeframe. “[Timing] is critically important because like snowflakes in July, political money disappears,” Levy says. “It's not like the furniture store who didn't buy in this week but decides you're going to be the better place for them to put their money next time around. If you don't get this money now, you won't get it, pure and simple.”
Driving political and arguably all ad sales success means moving the focus away from a station's audience and towards potential buyers, in this case voters, Levy says. “When you are talking to regular clients, it's all about your potential buyers and repeat buyers of goods and services. If we're going to try to get people's money, let's talk to them about things that are important to them as opposed to things that are important to us.”
So where do potential extra ad dollars come from, and how do stations find them? One possibility Levy points to is the 'trinket money' which, pre-COVID, would have been used for in-person fundraising events, while another is 'Facebook fallout' following accusations of hateful ads, controversial posts from politicians and ads appearing next to negative content on the social media site.
Also recommended by Levy are websites such as onlinecandidate.com, which gives insight as to what experts believe politicians should do with their digital dollars, and ballotpedia.org, which shows ballot information by zip code for any market, along with BIA's research showing political spending by market. “If I know where political money is slated to go in the market, I can look at creating a plan to intercept or ambush this money,” Levy says. “If I'm radio, what can I do to get that money? If I know where that money is going to go, I can start building a benefit-oriented presentation.”
Additional suggestions for stations looking to maximize political ad revenue include using coverage maps to show candidates how they can help them influence potential voters in key listening areas, making sure they know all the candidates running in the area from all parties including independents, having all contact information for election boards, even photos of candidates for when opportunities arise should sales staff bump into one at any time.
Perhaps most important, Levy reminds stations to tell political advertisers “what you have done to be your community's number one community connection. With political ad money, it's a sprint, which means you got to come out of the gate hard and fast.”