AccuList’s direct marketing clients need to plan for competition for consumer attention across all media as political campaigns’ ad spending is forecast to hit record heights in 2020. Kantar’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) predicts that political media campaigns will spend a record $6 billion on advertising in 2020, a 14.3% increase over the $5.25 billion spent in the 2018 midterm elections, and a 37.9% increase over the last Presidential campaign year in 2016, with the biggest gains going to digital media, which will nearly double to $1.2 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, ad media giant GroupM forecasts that political ad spending could reach a record $9.8 billion or more in 2020, again driven by digital ad growth.
Political Digital Competition Will Squeeze Inventory, Drive Up CPM
Nonpolitical marketers will face a considerable challenge, especially if they are advertising in politically divided markets, warns Kantar. For example, in the last three weeks of the 2016 campaign season, political advertising totaled 32% of local TV ad time within the battleground markets studied, an increase of 26% from the beginning of the season, while nonpolitical advertisers watched their share of the market plummet from 77% to 51%. Meanwhile, because digital is a big growth area for politicos in 2020, with a preference for programmatic advertising, marketing agency Hiebing warns that a scramble for digital inventory will significantly drive up CPMs for nonpolitical campaigns. Advertisers should develop a game plan early, either shifting campaign flights out of the election window or diversifying channels and tactics, Hiebing advises. Marketers should also consider Private Marketplaces, or PMPs, which are invitation-only marketplaces where selected programmatic media buyers make deals with publishers. These can offer access to more premium inventory, and better control over brand safety, than open exchanges crowded by 2020 political buyers.
Direct Mail Needs Careful Scheduling, Targeting, Stand-out Tactics
For direct mailers, it’s important to recognize that mailbox crowding will be especially bad around certain key events, such as the weeks before an election date, as well as early voting starts and the delivery of absentee/mail ballots. Marketing-mail drop dates need to be adjusted accordingly. Since bulk mail delivery is slowed, taking a back seat to first-class political promotions, mailers need to build in extra delivery time to the in-home date. Plus, in 2020, you will need to pay attention to the Super Tuesday primaries on March 3 because those primaries will see more impact (and more political mail) than usual as two of the nation’s most populous states, Texas and California, are among the 14-state total; indeed, Super Tuesday this year affects a whopping one third of the U.S. population. Bottom line: Careful planning of mail schedules will be required to get promotions in the hands of target audiences at the right time! Even with good timing, mailboxes are busier and response can be impacted, so marketers also need to make an effort to stand out creatively, perhaps changing up outer envelopes in size and color, and to avoid costly waste with more targeted messaging, via segmentation and personalization.