Will Feltus, a renowned researcher and planner at Republican communications company National Media, worked in pivotal roles on President George W. Bush’s 2004 and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaigns. His Target Media Index breaks down voter preferences to fine detail. And he’s an unabashed fan of radio and its ability to bring a political message across.
“There’s no reason radio shouldn’t be 10%-15% of the total media mix,” he says. “That’s what we recommend. In a big market, if you’re buying 1,000 basis points on TV, you would be buying 150 to 200 on radio, which is a good-sized radio buy. It’s a highly targetable buy.”
Feltus’ Target Media Index gets very detailed on everything from beer brands, to autos, to radio music genres. Part of his confidence in radio is that during election season, TV’s political ads can become irksome to the point where people may change channels, he says. Radio listeners, on the other hand, tend to wait out what could be a glut of political ads. Television viewership also skews toward Democratic-leaning viewers; radio has a better mix of both parties and independents.
“High-turnout Republican men” over-index as news/talk listeners, Feltus has found. The female counterpart is most often listening to adult contemporary. Country station listeners may skew Republican but not so much that they stand out among formats.
Finding those different audiences, even with subtle differences, is a reason Chris Choi, deputy director of the Democratic Party-bent Blue States Digital, says digital has its advantages. Blue States, now a unit of WPP, became most famous for its work on President Obama’s campaign, particularly on digital platforms but it’s a multiplatform operation that also cuts across other media.
Choi has to hand it to digital for its targeting: “We can create 15 different regional ads for digital. That’s a lot harder on radio.” But, Choi says, CBS Local in particular has been “doing a great job” in its targeting message for radio, noting how for Democrats, local talk/radio is also a powerful draw.