My summation: Buying broadcast is bad and nasty political consultants do it to rip your ass off because they charge commissions. Hire us, because we’re smarter, and it’s for a good cause, because our clients are progressives — not corporations!
Forgive my snark, but everytime I hear this “broadcast sucks, buy cable, and media consultants are all whores sucking away your money” it makes me laugh. These guys make great points about efficiency and targeting but they don’t tell the full story.
First, you can make assumptions that men watch certain channels and women others, but you’ll need to get real data from the individual markets through your own polling — not exactly cheap to do. Registered, likely and unregistered voters do not neatly fit into demographic profiles that cable companies have on hand.
Second, frequency and points matter. MKS at least recognizes that fact in this graf:
It is important to point out that campaigns can’t always spot buy. Some cable systems limit spot buying for political campaigns or don’t allow them at all. (When that happens, the buyers have to push back and negotiate hard for whatever they can get. Most of the time it works.)
Yeah, no shit guys. Campaigns can almost never spot buy on cable because cable operators sell hundreds upon hundreds of spots over a boatload of channels. They like predictability, something campaigns are not. Plus, you don’t really get to bully them like you can with broadcast. Your $100K over two months doesn’t mean squat to them.
Broadcast has many more people buying for a fewer number of spots. And, they also happen to have the local news stations, something voters tend to watch.
The real problem with cable is that you cannot build GRP’s (Gross Ratings Points) quickly like you can on broadcast. You can buy as much cable as possible over months and not build points as quickly as you can on broadcast. This creates a problem: time. Because you need to build frequency, cable requires you to buy long term, sometimes a full month to reach appropriate saturation. This means you can’t pivot your commercials to answer new charges, you limit your spot options because of the length of the campaign and you cannot air new charges/mistakes that happen late in the campaign.
Broadcast allows these options because you can buy up the things that people watch and get your GRPs up in as little as 5 days. Of course, that’s more expensive.
It annoys the piss out of me that the netroots frequently assigns we political consultants the “dumbass” label because we don’t do things the way they see fit. As if we don’t want to win, save money or be effective.
It’s even more interesting to now see political consultants start playing the same game. Why? Guess they’re trying out a new marketing strategy to get more clients.
Update:This proves my point exactly. They give you an example of their work. This was an interest group campaign that used targeted cable to increase turnout among infrequent, pro-choice women voters in Oregon. To be fair, they don’t claim cable was the answer, but the example falls right into my main complaint about cable. This was a long-term, sustained campaign that relied on 1 message and 1 group of voters. It was likely prudent to layer in cable with mail, phones and all else to get the message out to women who cared about choice. But, if they had to switch up their message in the last 2 weeks, they would never have been able to build enough repetition behind it to get out their new message. Convenient for interest groups, not so convenient for tight campaigns where a sliver of the electorate that decides in the final weeks of the campaign determines your winner.
Plus, by citing “nearly 70% — 24,523 — of the 35,000 women targeted by PPAF in those three cable clusters turned out to vote in 2004? is very disingenuous. There just so happened to be a presidential election that cycle where the incumbent was widely despised by the left (pro-choice voters tend to be more liberal) and you had 2 women at the top of the ticket, Christine Gregoire and Patty Murray. Both, I’ll bet, targeted the hell out of pro-choice women because their Republican opponents (especially George Nethercutt) were bad on choice.
Again, there’s no doubt that cable had an effect, but the netroots wholesale advocacy for cable just doesn’t jive with how real campaigns are run.
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