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Marketing Challenges for Political Marketers

By May 13, 2014

By Michael Beach

vote-355Today’s fragmented media landscape is challenging marketers of every kind, especially in the world of politics. Not long ago, political organizations could rely on broadcast TV spots to reach almost every voter. Research released last month from Targeted Victory’s “Off the Grid” study shows today that no single medium reaches a majority of American voters. Instead of choosing the single best medium, new winning strategies require the best possible mix of mediums.

The electorate has split into 3 distinct groups based on media consumption:

  • Live TV Only voters still consume media in the traditional sense.  They are the shrinking demographic that still watches “60 Minutes” live on Sundays. Broadcast and cable television advertising is still the best way to reach this group, and we estimate that they will account for 17% of voters next November.
  • Screen Agnostics are voters who prefer a mix of live television, time shifted television and new media, like Internet streaming. Television advertisers should hesitate before celebrating, however. These voters are consuming less video through live television and more through other sources.  We estimate that this group will account for 54% of voters next November.
  • Off the Grid voters are almost impossible to reach through broadcast television advertising buys. Although they consume media content, they do so through digital sources and time shift the majority of their remaining viewing (with the exception of live sporting events) through DVRs, TiVo, etc.  Our estimate is that this group will account for 29% of voters next November.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • Live TV as a primary video source has dropped from 57% in 2011 to 48%
  • Number of voters planning to switch away from live TV has risen from 20% in 2011 to 32%
  • 77% of the voters that plan to make the switch will do so within a single election cycle (2 years)
  • 78% of those that plan on switching will do so because of convenience

This evolving media landscape does not pit digital advertising against television. Instead, it makes and concludes the argument for the smart use of limited advertising budgets. When faced with such a television-averse electorate, it no longer makes sense to build budgets that are heavily stacked towards television advertising.

Every election and every audience is different, and the precise targeting afforded by digital advertising is but one solution in a sizable toolbox. Modern political campaigns can succeed, even on small budgets, by choosing an effective mix of media that delivers cost-effective engagement.

Michael Beach is cofounder of Targeted Victory.