Political Ad Spending is Out of Control — and Unnecessary!

I do not know about you, but I am sick and tired of emails and texts asking for money. I receive at least five hundred a day with the majority being requests for 2022 campaigns.

My father, a career Naval Officer told me that when he was posted at the Pentagon, that it could run on half of the budget. The same thing is true of today’s campaigns.

I am a Democratic Media Consultant and I find the amount of money being spent in today’s campaigns ludicrous! A candidate does not have to match their opponent’s spending dollar for dollar. They, and their consultants, just must be smarter.

In 1996, I testified before the United States Committee on Rules and Administration with this same message. “Too many consultants, both Democratic and Republican, hire inexperienced ‘buyers’ to spend millions of dollars. These young buyers fail to grasp what an ‘avail’ or a Gross Rating Point is, let alone FCC law. Strategic time-buying includes knowing the law and maximizing every dollar raised. Given that most consultants are paid on a percentage basis, there is no incentive to keep media expenditures down.

There is a buying pattern emerging that concerns me — too much ‘NEWS’ and the same buys each week. Research shows that voters who watch the news each night are less persuadable than those that do not, and they pay less attention to political ads in news programming than in other shows. More and more, it is the ‘undecideds’ who are responsible for determining the outcome of an election. They need to be reached through other programming and other media.

Another reason that costs have continued to rise is that rather than strategic-targeting, consultants believe that the more Gross Rating Points the better. I am sure every Member of the Senate has heard these words. That is why you are asked to spend so much of your time raising money. However, if your media buy is the same each week, are you reaching more voters or just the same ones – time and time again? Quality production with a succinct and clear message, coupled with a varied and targeted media plan (in conjunction with the campaign’s polling data) will have an impact. No matter how much money is put into a media buy, if the message is not succinct, clear, and strategically targeted, the money for both the buy and the production has been utterly wasted.”

If you want to win and not spend millions, here are three things that you must do:

  1. Do not pay your media consultants a commission, work out a monthly fee. They should not spend money to make money!
  2. Make sure they collaborate with the pollster on targeting and messaging; and
  3. Put more money into production to ensure that your messages are succinct and clear.