With the 2016 presidential election 11 months away and the first round of state primaries coming up early next year, it’s likely you’ve seen a political ad or two on television. While the current candidates are able to reach large groups of people with these ads, they come with a high price tag and often take a long time to film and produce. A recent New York Times article points out that more candidates are starting to use radio to reach voters.
The article explains that one of the reasons radio is an effective tool during an election season is that listeners who are often commuting long distances become a captive audience, as it is “easier for television viewers to tune out and online audiences have the ability to scroll or skip through ads.” According to the article, “political advertising on iHeartMedia stations has increased 30% for the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2011 and many of the Republican candidates have been running radio ads since the summer.” Republican candidate Donald Trump, for example, “has bought ads only on radio, with six different commercials playing across the country. Currently, Trump only has ads running on radio.”
When comparing prices, Mike Schreurs, CEO of Strategic America, explains this advertising cost difference. “A campaign wanting to reach voters in the Des Moines market with an effective ad purchase would have to spend about $85,000 on television. To reach the voters to the same degree would cost only $48,000 on radio.” The presence of many conservative-style talk shows also makes radio ads an effective way to reach key constituents. Using radio as an advertising tool allows candidates to better get their messages through to desired audiences.
With radio stations differentiated by format, it makes it easier for candidates to be sure they are reaching out to exactly the right audiences. For example, the New York Times article says, “Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic candidate from Vermont has been reaching out to black voters in South Carolina by strategically running ads on hip-hop and R&B stations that highlight his record on civil rights issues.” Similarly, Hillary Clinton is running her own ads that focus on her mother’s difficult childhood on African-Americans stations in South Carolina.
What’s clear from the article is that candidates on both sides understand the value of using radio as an effective tool to get their message out to voters. As the campaign progresses, it will be interesting to see how the candidates continue to use radio advertisements, in addition to the media they earn across platforms.