The Election Year Media Landscape
The country has elected a new president, freeing up airwaves and the like for retailers and advertisers.
With the most recent political season put to rest, it’s time to get back to normal and gear up for the holiday selling season, followed by a new year likely to strengthen our focus on digital media.
Perhaps the unexpected success of a candidate, now president-elect, who used more unorthodox tactics in reaching audiences with more effort in earned media, could prove to upend much of what we assume is most effective in media at large. At the very least, candidates in future elections will have to reevaluate game plans as they look to get their messages out.
During the election season, many retailers and advertisers went dark, particularly the months leading up to the presidential election to stay away from the fray. A reset is eminent, gearing up for a busy holiday season and refocusing strategies on the ever-changing and evolving digital media world.
The holiday months could see prices for traditional media hover around election levels because of this. Many retailers are likely to dump money in November and December for the shopping season before a quiet January as retailers prepare new media plans. There’s also an overflow of retail TV spots that may have been kicked out over a political ad and will also need to run in these months. All those businesses and advertisers have saved money for after the election so cost can go up.
For consumers, many shoppers could hold onto money early in 2017 to save up after an expensive holiday season and see how the economy fares under a new president. In turn, advertising goes down as businesses have much of the same hangover.
Mixing It Up
When we look at media plans, each channel of the media gamut helps piece together the puzzle, which needs a healthy dose of mixed media working seamlessly in order to create the right picture.
Despite the ambiguous buzzword of “digital” sounding off every corner of the media world, more traditional media still has some teeth with the greatest percentage of users and most far-reaching audiences, but there is a point where return doesn’t match dollars. So, it’s important to design a well-rounded, multichannel media plan.
Connected TV has been ramping up, absorbing much of the overflow from the massive market where TV is prohibiting some retailers and advertisers with higher costs in major markets. This past election year, Connected TV proved to be a worthy component of TV mix, complementing cable and broadcast buying expectations. Hulu, being a major hub for content on Connected TV, sold out inventory for certain audiences through the end of the year in some cases, stretching it to an unprecedented capacity.
With costs increasing and more and more audience reach happening outside of TV and radio, rating companies, such as Nielsen/eXelate and comScore/Rentrak, are being pushed to find one good rating for shows and programming by combining all mediums being used by consumers. This would prove a helpful tool for determining media spend and getting clients the best return on investment, especially with digital continuing to offer more specific and detailed delivery reporting. This making a well-rounded media mix more important than ever.
As the media landscape diversifies, we have to adopt a “constant learning” approach and apply perpetual testing and measurement in order to launch and target our most effective messages. In order to draw the most meaningful conclusions on cause and effect, it’s often good practice to not only test campaign-specific messaging but set up an “evergreen barometer” gauging interest level year-round. For example, a low level, but ongoing, search and display campaign can measure relative share of voice, upticks and downturns in demand or interest, and allow advertisers to keep a finger on the pulse of what people are responding to. For instance, we expect to see more search activity and interaction with display ads when TV and radio is running in different localities.
Evergreen campaigns like this can also be used to test responses to messaging and inform other media channels. It’s much simpler to launch a display campaign with two different headlines or calls-to-action and allow real data to illustrate which is more engaging. Then that learning can inform message strategy for in-store POP or television and radio buys of larger scope.
Throughout the year when looking at seasonal goals or near-term priorities, you can ramp up and layer on campaigns around real business objectives. For instance, a video campaign can be layered in to improve consideration in advance of holiday shopping season. Or a segmented remarketing campaign can be added to stimulate online conversions in peak buying windows. Everything can layer and be tested looking at channels against channels or creative against creative, allowing the best performing combinations to run, pausing underperformers and replacing with new tests.
This coming year is likely to see a major focus on choosing the right mix and testing new opportunities in order to meet media goals and most importantly real world business objectives. Our job is to make what we buy deliver.
Research & Writing
Karen Ashworth, Jeff Smack & Linda Davis