It’s All About Politics


(By Charlie Sislen) It was not too long ago when election years meant easy money. Not only did broadcasters just have to pick up the phone and take orders from both candidates and issue advertisers, but once TV was sold out, the demand on your inventory meant great rates. In other words, political campaigns meant tremendous revenue.

While the opportunity for windfall money in 2020 does exist, unlike past years, it is not ensured. This is not because the money has stopped flowing. All projections indicate that political spending in 2020 will approach $10 billion (Group M Analysis). The demand is there. But BIA Advisory Services estimates that radio will get only 5% of local political advertising.

One hurdle is that those who are spending the money to promote their cause (both politicians and issue advertisers) have more options than before. Unless you are living in a cave, you know about Facebook’s advertising in the 2016 campaign. Digital advertisers promote their ability to target specific groups both geographically and by political tendencies.

However, radio is still a powerful outlet for those who are trying to legally influence voters. Nobody can deny the power of audio, and the importance of people hearing a convincing message. Just as important as the delivery of the message is the tremendous ability for radio to segment to specific voting groups. Remember that facts are key.

Use Nielsen Audio data to show that you deliver the right geographic region, whether it’s a congressional district or a proper geographic segment (urban, suburban, or rural). Most major qualitative sources ask voting questions. Included in Scarborough are:
– Likely to vote in various elections
– Political party
– General lifestyle.

So what do you need to do? First is to build a plan. A desire without a plan is just a wish. Determine who is best to target and reach out to that group. As always, your plan should include why radio and your station, and finally how you are going to influence voters to the advertiser’s way of thinking.

We also suggest you build a formal/professional deck. While it may not get used in front of the media buyers, we have found that a professional and well-organized deck has tremendous value to the directed influencer.

Finally, remind the non-political advertisers that during the political season, things are going to get tight. Get them to commit early to ensure they won’t be locked out in October.
For 2020, we cannot rely on answering the phone to get those needed political dollars. Build your plan and your pitch. Then focus on getting your message out to those decision-makers who are right for your station.

Charlie Sislen is a partner at Research Director, Inc. He can be reached at 410-956-0363 or by e-mail at [email protected]. This post is part of a series titled “Growing the Radio Pie.” To view past articles, visit The Ratings Experts at Research Director, Inc. online here.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here