Marketing During an Election Year: What You Need to Know

Tracy Marlowe  |  June 17, 2024

After over two decades of marketing and advertising experience (including leading a full-service agency), I have helped my fair share of organizations navigate the tricky footing of trying to market their organization during an election year.

The 2024 election cycle is shaping up to be a landmark year in terms of political advertising spend. Marketers and business owners need to be aware of the challenges and approach this year strategically.

Here’s what you need to know to effectively manage your marketing during an election year in 2024 and beyond.


Understanding the Election Year Landscape

Historic Ad Spend

The 2024 election cycle is predicted to see the highest political ad spend in history. With over $154 million already allocated for presidential election ads, we’re seeing an unprecedented demand for ad space.

This influx of political ads means increased competition for consumer attention and advertising space, especially in battleground states. I’ve seen firsthand how this saturation can hinder businesses. It's crucial to be prepared and adapt your strategies accordingly—more on this later.

Digital Spending Surge

Political advertisers are utilizing digital platforms like never before. This year, we are on track to see a 156% spike in political digital ad spend since 2020, highlighting a significant shift towards digital platforms. This means more competition not only in the traditional media landscape, but also online.

Digital Media

Consumer Behavior During Election Years

Consumer behavior changes significantly during election years, especially presidential election years. As Americans await the election results, consumer confidence typically wains, resulting in a slower moving and more hesitant economy. Fewer large purchases such as homes, cars, electronics and vacations are made. However, once the election results are in and the dust settles, spending generally rebounds.

Traditional Media

The Impact on the Marketing Landscape

Increased Competition for Mindshare

The sheer volume of political ads can make it more difficult to capture consumer attention. Consumers often feel ad fatigue, making it more challenging for your ads to stand out. To combat this, you may need to increase the frequency of your ads while also refining your messaging.

Higher Advertising Costs

Advertising costs, including cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per click (CPC), can rise significantly during election years. This increase is especially prominent on broadcast channels like television and radio, as well as connected TV (CTV). The effect is greatest in battleground states, but can be seen in markets throughout the country.

Reduced Inventory and Increased Demand

Although you may not be competing with political advertisers for votes, you are competing with them for ad space. The high demand for advertising space during election years leads to reduced available ad spots, driving up costs.

To avoid burning through your budget too quickly, it’s essential to plan your advertising spend carefully. If you don't have one in-house, you should consult a savvy media planner who will help you get the most out of your budget.

Moving forward with plan

Preparing Your Strategy for Marketing During an Election Year

Plan Ahead

Start by understanding your state's political landscape. If you’re in a battleground state, you’re likely to see an especially high spike in political ad spending. Know your target market and whether it overlaps with the markets being targeted by political advertisers. If so, you'll likely need to adjust your strategy to avoid the cutthroat competition and soaring costs.

Know Your Audience

Develop campaigns that are highly specific to your audience. Use mediums that allow for narrow targeting to keep costs in check and reduce wasted spend. This will help ensure that your ads reach the right people without overspending.

Time Your Advertising Wisely

Plan your advertising around key political dates such as caucuses, primaries and the general election. Consider reducing or pausing your ad spend during these peak times—this year that will be September through October—to avoid the highest costs and most intense competition.

Leverage Different Mediums

Consider leveraging different advertising mediums to help you save on costs. In many cases, search ads, targeted and contextual display ads, and streaming audio are more cost-effective alternatives to traditional broadcast advertising. Depending on the popularity of ad mediums in your state, these methods may help you reach your audience without competing directly with as many political ads.

Work with Experts

Navigating an election year requires expertise. A great way to get experts on your side is working with an agency with specialists in media planning and placement.

In our case, we at Creative Noggin are a full-service agency. This means we can guide your marketing from strategy to creative to media planning and beyond as your outsourced marketing department or as an extension of your internal team.


4 Practical Tips for Marketing During an Election Year

  1. Diversify Your Channels: Don’t rely solely on one advertising channel. Diversifying your channels can help you mitigate the impact of increased competition and costs. For example, while television and radio costs are high, digital and streaming platforms might offer more affordable options.
  2. Focus on Engagement: Prioritize campaigns that drive engagement. Interactive content such as social media campaigns and personalized email marketing can help you maintain a connection with your audience, even amid the noise of political ads.
  3. Optimize Your Creative: Ensure your creative stands out. High-quality, attention-grabbing ads are more likely to make an impact in a crowded advertising space. Invest in creating compelling visuals and strong messaging that resonates with your audience.
  4. Monitor and Adjust: Keep a close eye on your campaign performance. Use real-time data to monitor the effectiveness of your ads and be prepared to adjust your strategy as needed. This agility can help you respond to changes in the advertising landscape and optimize your spend.

Marketing during an election year presents unique challenges, but with careful planning and strategic adjustments, you can keep resonating with your audience, just like many of our clients have. By understanding the impact of increased political ad spending, adapting your strategies to mitigate costs, and working with experienced professionals, you can maintain your marketing effectiveness and achieve your business goals.

We're here to help.

Need help with creating and executing your winning election year strategy? My experienced team can serve as your outsourced marketing team or as an extension of your internal team. Reach out to schedule a strategy call and we'll explore how to help you thrive throughout and beyond this cutthroat election year.

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