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The Problem with Political Ad Spend (That No One is Talking About)

The Lowest Unit Rate (LUR) window for political advertising is upon us!

And due in-part to limited in-person campaigning caused by the coronavirus pandemic, political advertising dollars are expected to surge leading up to the general election on November 3rd.

Everyone knows that this political revenue windfall comes with a heap of hassle. As a result, 1 in 5 broadcasters “declined to permit any political advertising” during previous election cycles.

But in this roller coaster year of plummeting ad revenue, most broadcasters aren’t able to turn away business even if it means navigating through the tough challenges of complexity and compliance.

And when they do, they’ll run into an often-overlooked problem that could make or break their year…

The Big Problem: November 4th

In the race to grab every precious political penny during the eight-week LUR window, broadcasters will focus their attention on a fleeting roster of political advertisers.

(With revenue down 25% for most media companies in Q2, and a projected $7B in political ad spend across all mediums at play, who can blame them)?

Political administrivia is a heavy lift, to say the least. Prepping for, hunting down, and maintaining political ad spend requires a great deal of focus and busywork - from tracking LURs, to creating Political Playbooks, publicly posting political orders, and so on.

And inevitably, a generous portion of these tiresome, time-sucking administrative duties land on the desks of the sales organization.

It comes with a high cost...

Even media salespeople with the best intentions can become so busy during political season that they are occasionally forced to take an eye off their non-political clients and prospects.

Obviously, with less prospecting and less attentiveness to their non-political advertisers, there’s bound to be less revenue in the last quarter, after the political window slams shut.

But the big problem is this: it’s easy for your core customers to feel like second-class citizens during the political season and that can hurt you big time come Nov. 4th.

It annoys advertisers to no end when they are bumped to make room for a political ad and consequently must spend time working through makegood negotiations. And when they're not getting the level of service they want.

Many of these advertisers are your best clients—the treasured advertisers who have stuck with your stations through COVID.

And you want them—really need them—to be happy and well cared for in order to help you make up revenue shortfalls in 2020 once Nov. 3 has come and gone. Not to mention to meet revenue goals in 2021 and beyond.

So how can a sales organization balance the administrative realities of the political season while still managing to take excellent care of core advertisers?

Have Your Cake & Eat it Too

Broadcasters can, and should, have a way to tackle the manual tasks involved in handling political without cannibalizing time that AEs could be spending on non-political customers.

And one that doesn’t require an entire department to be dedicated to the cause, since that’s a luxury most media companies simply cannot afford.

So we created a module within RateOptics™ (our dynamic pricing product for broadcasters) to do just that. And it’s aptly named Political LUR™.

The RateOptics™ Political LUR™ module eliminates the administrivia that goes into tracking a station’s lowest unit rates. With Political LUR™, you don’t have to manually sift through rates in traffic, find and extract LURs, and manually compile lowest unit rates for every priority code and class of time.

Instead, with a single click, you see your lowest unit rates for every daypart and priority code, saving precious time that could be better spent on revenue-generating activities, while reducing makegoods and helping to keep you FCC compliant.

And Political LUR™ is just one of many modules within RateOptics™, which includes a host of additional time-saving capabilities to help create efficiencies for media sales teams in and out of the political season.

For instance, RateOptics™ provides data at your fingertips to drive advertiser-specific pricing and packaging decisions; to identify rate driving opportunities; and it gives you one-click access to supporting metrics such as AURs, pacing, and more.

With all that said, best wishes for owning the upswing this political season. May the best candidates win and may their ad spend set new records in 2020!

Is your team well-positioned to meet revenue goals once the political period ends? Grab some time with us to see Political LUR™ and RateOptics™ for yourself. Drop us a line and we might even let you test drive a cool new tool we haven’t launched yet :)


Emilee Bond

Emilee Bond knows ad sales. She spent 20+ years selling advertising and media research data to Fortune 500s at orgs like iHeartMedia and Nielsen. Today she helps ad sales teams transform their operations with next-gen software and writes popular blogs in her free time.

Emilee Bond knows ad sales. She spent 20+ years selling advertising and media research data to Fortune 500s at orgs like iHeartMedia and Nielsen. Today she helps ad sales teams transform their operations with next-gen software and writes popular blogs in her free time.

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