Radio Matters

Political advertising and marketing for the upcoming 2020 elections have no doubt been dramatically impacted by coronavirus, as strategies have been upended over the past three months. In a post on the Radio Advertising Bureau’s “Radio Matters” blog, contributor Leo Kivijarv, Executive VP & Director of Research of PQ Media, weighs in on what it may mean for 2020 political media buying. “The simple answer,” he says. “It remains a crapshoot.”

Kivijarv reflects that in a previous post he wrote nine months ago, there were still 20+ Democratic candidates, with primaries still months away and pundits in full fundraising mode, including President Trump. “Based on the political environment in August 2019, PQ Media was predicting that political media buying would reach $8.33 billion in 2020.”

However, soon following, Michael Bloomberg entered the race and spent more than $500 million before dropping out; 44 Democratic primaries and caucuses were held; and Joe Biden resurrected a flaying campaign to become the presumptive Democratic nominee. But most importantly, “the coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head. The U.S. economy sank into a recession as more than 40 million jobless claims were filed. Sadly, more than 1.7 million Americans would contract the virus that would lead to over 100,000 deaths as we enter June 2020, a little more than five months away from the 2020 elections.”

Now, according to Kivijarv, PQ Media’s revised prediction of political media buying includes seven trends that might determine how much money will be spent during the presidential election, where it might be spent and how it could be spent: toss-ups, coronavirus, the economy, demographics, voting, “bros” and the VP choice.

The RAB post devotes nearly 4,000 words to each of these categories, which can be accessed in full HERE. The PQ Media executive concludes that in June 2016, the company’s analysis of political races indicated a big blue wave—that never happened. “We learned a lot can happen in five months as the race tightened by October,” he writes. “What we learned in the post-analysis of the 2016 elections is that many voters did not make up their minds until after Labor Day and more than 10% made the decision the week leading up to the election.” He wonders if that might actually happen again in 2020. Kivijarv says: “Most likely, given the uncertainty of the coronavirus outcomes as stay-at-home regulations are relaxed, particularly in six toss-up states and 10 lean/likely states.”