Given the current political climate, experts expect the 2020 elections to be very active.
A number of candidates are already campaigning for the 2020 primary elections, and the push to win over voters will only intensify once the primary seasons are over. Media research firm PQ Media projects that media buying for political ads could exceed $8 billion in this election cycle, which would make it the most expensive election season yet, trumping even 2016’s $7.24 billion in ad spending.
Without getting into how much the various candidates will spend on their individual campaigns, it is possible to draw some interesting conclusions based on where that advertising money will be spent. Given the increased focus on digital marketing and other high-tech advertising options, it may come as a surprise to some that radio will likely remain a significant target for political media buying.
Radio Advertising in 2020
According to PQ Media’s projections, radio advertising will likely receive a significant bump as part of a larger overall omnichannel marketing campaign across multiple platforms.
The size of this boost will depend on several factors, but it is entirely possible that 2020 radio advertising spend will eclipse what was spent during the 2016 elections. Heavy amounts of radio advertising may even help the overall spending on political advertising in 2020 to move closer to the $8B figure.
Theses estimates assume that the status quo in Washington will remains in effect until the election. If there are any unexpected political shifts or drastic actions such as the filing of articles of impeachment, the shift in the political climate could have a significant impact on radio advertising. Whether the amount of radio marketing would increase or decrease in these cases is impossible to predict.
Factors Affecting Radio’s Popularity
One of the largest factors that could influence radio spending in 2020 is the desire to reach minority voters and encourage to engage in the election.
Minority turnout was significantly lower in 2016 than it was when Barack Obama was running for President, and radio could be one platform that candidates use to try and reach these potential voters. African Americans and Hispanics make up two of the largest demographic groups of radio listeners, making it a perfect platform to get a candidate’s message to these important voters.
The number of grassroots campaigns run to encourage people to vote or register may also influence radio spending. The number of get-out-and-vote campaigns increased prior to the 2018 House and Senate races, resulting in a few surprisingly close contests in some states. Ongoing momentum suggests that the number of voter engagement campaigns could increase even further in the months leading up to the 2020 election, increasing radio advertising both as a means of reaching minority demographics and as a way to spread awareness to lower-income individuals who may not have as much access to online and televised content.
Radio vs. Other Marketing Platforms
This isn’t to say that political media buying will be limited to radio advertising, of course.
Political advertising budgets will increase across a wide range of media including radio, traditional linear television, cold mailing campaigns and even digital media advertising on social media, streaming content services and similar marketing platforms.
Just as a rising tide is said to raise all boats, the increased volatility and desire to come out on top in the 2020 elections will increase marketing budgets across the board. Radio is positioned to receive a larger-than-usual boost in political advertising spending, but a number of other marketing platforms will also see boosts from the 2020 election cycle as well.