The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of Americans in ways never thought possible, and the 2020 election cycle is no exception.
Face-to-face campaign stops, door-knocking community outreach, selfies with supporters and roars of the crowd at public rallies will be limited and, for many candidates, gone from the campaign trail. What has followed is the resurgence of a new world order for politics that has amplified the role for AM/FM radio and digital audio in sharing commentary, galvanizing support and getting the vote out, even among the most hard-to-reach audiences. It has also brought renewed emphasis on communicating the right message to the right audiences at the right time, which firmly positions data analytics on political-campaign frontlines.
Transformed campaigns are not the only change Americans are seeing in 2020. The cost to compete is expected to reach new heights. Data-management platform Tru Optik reports total election spending will climb to $10 billion. Digital media, including streaming audio, will draw in almost 30% of this amount – surpassing both 2018 midterm and 2016 presidential elections. Broadcast radio, along with print, out-of-home (OOH) and direct mail, will carve out a sizable $1.9 billion.
The result is an election that will look, feel and resonate much differently than in years past – and offer unprecedented opportunities for political advertisers.
Advertisers Need Far-Reaching Media Channels as Elections Approach
To say Americans are living in tumultuous and uncertain times would be an understatement. From all sides of the political aisle, they want to be informed, brought into the conversation and make a difference with their vote. In fact, a March 2020 Hill-HarrisX poll reveals 74% of U.S. adults are excited to vote in the 2020 elections.
Yet, engaging voters, especially election-turning voting blocs, with timely, trusted and actionable information requires comprehensive, data-driven strategies. This is especially true when media channels and formats are in flux.
An Annenberg Public Policy Center analysis based on Nielsen data from as far back as 1996 shows that the proportion of U.S. households watching the presidential debates has been declining, even though viewer access has improved. The Annenberg Public Policy Center also reports that the percentage of debate viewers in the 18 to 49 age group has declined from 48% to 41%, while the proportion of viewers aged 50 to 64 has grown from 23% to 30%.
The decline in younger political television viewers, most of whom came of age in digital environments, suggests advertisers need to find more nimble and relevant channels to connect with them and earn their votes.
Audio Plays a Critical Role in 2020 Campaign Strategies
To bring new depth to advertisers’ audience-targeting options, Entercom has partnered with Deep Root, an audience-powered analytics company. The partnership reinforces Entercom’s commitment to first-party, data-fueled capabilities. These enriched capabilities allow political campaigns and agencies as well as advocacy groups to also connect with Deep Root’s political and issue-advocacy audiences across the U.S., including those in highly coveted swing states.
Entercom audience blocs range from ethnically diverse Americans, women and Millennials to low television watchers, environmentalists and undecided voters. For instance, across its over-the-air (OTA) and digital platforms, Entercom reaches more than 8 million Black and nearly 10 million Hispanic registered voters. These groups present sizable opportunities to political advertisers who need to find authentic ways to engage and earn their trust and votes.
In Texas alone, Entercom platforms extend to more than 3.6 million women, 2.4 million Millennials and 1.7 million low television viewers. Content reaches over a half million low television viewers in Michigan, and many undecided voters across the U.S., including those in swing states. For example, 123,000 women in Michigan, 109,000 women in North Carolina and 128,000 Millennials in Florida remain on the fence politically and have the power to change election outcomes, particularly in tight races.
“Expansive reach and national scale allow radio and digital audio to serve as a reliable platform for brands and political campaigns to reach engaged audiences. Now more than ever, it is our responsibility to support these advertising partners with increased targeting to accomplish their specific goals,” says Dan McKinney, Vice President, Data and Analytics, Entercom. “The strategic integration with Deep Root will allow us to better serve our trusted partners and enhance their capabilities when leveraging our audio assets to maximize their voter reach nationally and locally.
Campaign Mandate Is to Connect with More Audiences
Audio’s ability to deliver audiences most receptive to a point of view, forge emotional audience connections with advertisers and advocates, and inform listeners across party lines places the medium at the heart of 2020 political battles. Prevailing nationwide unrest, an escalating need to hear and share opinions, and a widening information gap have made its role all the more vital.
With the country at a crossroads, there has never been a time when reaching the masses and engaging them in constructive dialogue have been more critical. Whether it is local hosts connecting communities or podcasts diving deep into hot-button issues, audio offers a prime opportunity to those who want to find, inform and listen to audiences.
With audio’s scale, reach and powerful content, advertisers can build a groundswell of support and advocacy for their candidates and causes. They can also take part in a landmark election cycle that will influence campaign strategies and the country’s political process for generations to come.