Insights — Weekly Brief: Pivoting With the Political

Weekly Brief: Pivoting With the Political

Weekly Brief , Media Planning / July 20, 2020
Sara Wallace
Sara Wallace

ICYMI, it's a presidential election year. Throw that on top of all the social, cultural, and economic instability, and you've got yourself a perfect storm of questions and considerations when it comes to digital recruitment strategies. 

Kantar media projects an estimated $7 billion will be spent on political advertising in 2020. Congressional and Presidential nominees, along with PACs and lobbyists, are expected to flood the digital space with messaging until November in an attempt to sway voters in their direction. Pairing this with your knowledge of Gen Z prospects and their general distaste toward information overload and misinformation, the digital space is sure to be a warzone of brands competing for attention, not to mention increased concern over where your ads are showing up (and what they're showing up next to).

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you look to recruit your future classes:

  • Some platforms like Facebook (including their ecosystem of Instagram and WhatsApp) allow users to opt out of political ads during this season. In theory, this has is beneficial for the user, but it will inevitably reduce audience reach for political ads, thereby increasing frequency to those not opting out.

  • Political campaigns usually make huge investments in traditional platforms like broadcast TV, radio, and print, but with the pandemic keeping people at home, expect substantial increases in streaming audio and TV apps.

  • Major athletic franchises like the NFL are still in purgatory on a clear plan for the Fall. Events like these are hotbeds for brands (and maybe institutions like yours) to sponsor and promote. As major sports events develop their plans for audience engagement and streaming opportunities, this will be a hotbed for political advertising given the large cross-section of American viewers.

  • With record numbers of young people (18-35) reporting significant spikes in anxiety and depression, the inevitable polarization of presidential politics is likely to have a continued negative impact on mental and emotional health. Institutions looking to build connections with their audiences and evolve their nurture strategies will need to continue to remain authentic and empathetic to these needs as audiences will be quicker to opt out of certain digital media or ignore communications altogether.

  • Political ads will always take preference in buys versus a standard brand ad. That means if inventory is tight in streaming TV, you will lose out, your run rate will be lower, and you will have credits coming back to you. You can use this funding to reallocate to other placements, but it will require attentiveness to timing and where your ads are running and performing well. 

This Fall will be a recruiting and marketing season unlike any of us have ever experienced. No one will be perfect and get it right every time. This is a 'buckle up, remain present, and try your best' time. Lean on your partners and resources internally and externally to understand the shifting market to make the best use of your dollars and keep track of your Northstar: creating quality connections with prospects and building the right type of awareness for your institution. 

Oh, and if you're looking to learn more about evolving social platforms and how to connect with Gen Z in the right ways, check out our recent piece on leveraging TikTok ads as a higher ed brand. 

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