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The Political Window (and How to Work It)

Working the political window

In a few weeks, television viewers may start to notice commercial breaks featuring more “approved messages” than familiar jingles. It’s that time period called the “political window,” and it’s something every advertiser should keep in mind.

During political windows—45 days before primary elections and 60 days before general elections—political candidates are treated as “most favored” advertisers and are charged the lowest unit rate (LUR) for advertising. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that 2020 will be an unprecedented year for political advertising, not the least of which is the contentious race for president.

Political Window Shopping: Never Too Soon to Start

Election season dramatically increases demand on advertising inventory, which means other advertisers get bumped, generally based on a last-in, first-out basis. In fact, local stations have already been availed for the presidential primary for dates before the window starts, which means we’ll likely see a strain on inventory even in Q1.

Key dates for 2020:

  • March 3 (Super Tuesday): Presidential Primary
  • September 15: State Primary
  • November 3: Presidential and State General Election

The best strategy to ensure your advertising airs on schedule (and before rates rise) is to give your media buyer approval to place your buys as far ahead as possible; at least through Q3 is recommended.

Everyone Wants a View

Beyond the presidential race, we’ll see local and statewide politics scooping up a lot of advertising inventory throughout the year. Consider this:

  • Massachusetts has two big races in 2020, including Senator Ed Markey versus Representative Joe Kennedy III for state senate (which is expected to be a very expensive race) and U.S. Representative Richard Neal’s challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse for Congress.
  • As is often the case, there are several potentially contentious issues that could make it to this year’s ballots. These hot-button questions typically garner significant advertising from both proponents and opponents.

For businesses and political advertisers alike, these collective factors make for an incredibly competitive advertising climate. The good news? We have years of experience helping clients ensure optimal visibility year-round. Contact us to get started today—while the window of opportunity is open wide.

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