How Advertisers Can Thrive in Political Years

Stand out in political years

Political years can feel like a rollercoaster for advertisers. The constant media buzz, shifting consumer behaviors, and increased competition for ad space can make it seem like an uphill battle to get your brand noticed. The barrage of political ads and news coverage can overshadow other marketing efforts, causing advertisers to rethink their strategies and find new ways to capture audience attention.

Yet, with the right strategies, political years offer unique opportunities for savvy marketers. By understanding how political campaigns impact consumer behavior, advertisers can adapt and turn these challenges into advantages. In this discussion, we explore the effects of political campaigns on consumer behavior and share actionable tips on how advertisers can stay ahead and make the most of these tumultuous times.

Understanding Consumer Behavior During Political Years

During political years, consumer behavior undergoes significant changes:

On one hand, the heightened interest in political events drives more people to consume media, especially news. Research indicates that media consumption spikes during election periods. According to the Pew Research Center, there is a noticeable uptick in the number of hours people spend consuming news and information and engaging with political content on a variety of different platforms. People are hungry for updates, analyses, and opinions, leading to increased engagement across various platforms. Nielsen Media Research also highlights that this trend is consistent across different demographics, making it a prime time for brands to capture a larger audience.

Other consumers may feel overwhelmed and fatigued by the constant barrage of political content, leading to media burnout. These individuals often seek to detach from consuming media to avoid the negativity and stress associated with political discourse. For advertisers, this shift means that a substantial segment of the audience might be tuning out during critical periods.

The challenge here is to strike a balance—creating content that stands out without adding to the political noise and finding alternative mediums or strategies to reach those who are actively avoiding traditional news platforms.


Adapting Your Campaign for Success

Choosing the Right Mediums

Selecting the appropriate advertising mediums is crucial for reaching your target audience effectively. It's important to look for mediums that don't flood their space with political ads, drowning out local advertisers who want a voice or a presence. By carefully selecting advertising channels, you can ensure your message reaches the right audience without getting lost in a sea of political content.

Digital Platforms

Digital platforms offer excellent opportunities for targeted advertising. With advanced algorithms and data analytics, these platforms can precisely target specific demographics based on user behavior and preferences. Given the high engagement rates on these platforms, your ads can reach a vast and diverse audience, maximizing the potential for brand exposure and customer acquisition. Additionally, the interactive nature of digital platforms allows for real-time feedback and adjustments, ensuring your advertising strategies remain effective and relevant.

Different digital strategies, such as geofencing, targeted display, search engine marketing (SEM), and connected TV (CTV), offer clutter-free visibility for businesses. Geofencing allows businesses to target audiences based on their geographic location, delivering highly relevant ads when users enter a specific area. Retargeting helps in re-engaging users who have previously interacted with your website or app, keeping your brand top-of-mind. Targeted display ads can be tailored to specific audience segments, ensuring your message reaches the right people. Meanwhile, CTV provides engaging and immersive experiences that can capture user attention effectively. These strategies collectively enhance the visibility and impact of your advertising efforts in a politically-free manner.

Traditional Media

Despite the growing dominance of digital media, traditional media like TV, radio, and city/regional magazines still hold significant value. These mediums continue to be trusted sources of news and entertainment for many audiences. According to Nielsen's "Maximum Lift" study, AM/FM radio, in particular, excels in reaching a wide range of listeners. Traditional media's ability to connect with diverse demographics ensures it remains a vital part of a successful marketing mix.

City and regional magazines offer another avenue to connect with local communities. These publications typically steer clear of political content, making them a refreshing escape in today’s media landscape. They focus on providing valuable information about local events, businesses, and cultural happenings, making them a vital link to important community events for readers. It's a breath of fresh air, offering content that fosters a sense of belonging and connection.

Integrating radio, magazines, and digital platforms is key to an effective omni-channel marketing approach. These three venues work together to increase lift, engagement, and marketing success. By leveraging this strategy, businesses can stand out even during a hectic political season.


As consumers increasingly turn to online searches to find products and services, having a robust SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy becomes essential for capturing their attention. During political seasons, when traditional advertising channels get cluttered with political ads, the clear and focused nature of online search queries offers a respite. Consumers searching for specific products or services are not deterred by political noise in search engine results pages (SERPs), presenting a perfect opportunity for businesses to shine.

Consumers' search behaviors are driven by their immediate needs and interests. Many people use search engines as their primary tool for discovering new products, comparing prices, and reading reviews. Data from Google suggests that over 90% of online experiences begin with a search engine. This makes it crucial for businesses to be discoverable through relevant, high-ranking search results. Ensure your business can be easily found by investing in a well-rounded SEO strategy, providing a competitive edge amid the political noise.


Consistency is crucial during a political year. Your brand has invested heavily over the years in building name recognition. Don't sacrifice and relinquish hard-fought brand visibility by stopping your advertising during a political season. In a time when attention is fiercely divided and numerous voices are competing for the spotlight, pulling back on your advertising efforts can cause your brand to be overshadowed. Continuously engaging your audience amidst the noise ensures that your hard-earned brand equity isn't diminished. Stay persistent, and your brand will not only maintain its visibility but also fortify its position in the marketplace.

the step by step guide to tracking marketing ROI

Long-Term Damage of Canceling Campaigns During Political Years

Declines in Sales

Statistics show that brands that stop advertising during political campaigns experience significant drops in sales. While it may be tempting to withdraw the advertising budget for a boost in profits, the evidence from a study done by the Institute for Marketing Science suggests that doing so risks putting the brand on a downward sales trajectory. The study found that brands that stopped advertising for a year or more experienced a year-on-year decline in sales. On average, according to the report, sales fell 16% after one year and as much as 25% after two years. This was even more significant for brands that were already in decline when they stopped advertising. The report concludes that time off-air could prove costly, particularly for smaller brands. Maintaining a presence, even during politically charged times, helps ensure continued visibility and consumer interest, ultimately safeguarding sales and brand growth.

Cost of Restarting Marketing Efforts

Restarting marketing efforts post-election can be challenging. The momentum built over time is lost, and it takes considerable effort to rebuild it. Brands often face the risk of losing their audience's attention and market share during this period. By staying active during political years, however, brands can maintain their market position and avoid the costs associated with restarting campaigns. Consistent engagement allows them to keep their audience invested and interested, ensuring a smoother transition back to regular marketing activities once the election cycle concludes. This approach not only saves costs but also strengthens the brand's presence and loyalty among consumers.

Bottom Line: Stay the Course

Political years present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for advertisers. By understanding consumer behavior, leveraging the right mediums, crafting engaging content, and maintaining a consistent presence, brands can thrive even during politically charged times. Canceling campaigns can have long-term negative effects on brand visibility and sales, making it essential to stay active and relevant.

With strategic planning and a deep understanding of the political landscape, advertisers can turn political years into opportunities for growth. Don't miss out on the potential benefits – start planning your next campaign today and watch your brand soar.

set up a complimentary consultation with Zimmer Communications

Back to Blog

Related Articles

How to Ruin Your Business With Bad Marketing

You probably know that marketing is important to the success of your business. But bad marketing...

Talking To Customers Through Your Company Newsletter

Are you talking to your customers each week? If not, you should be. Email marketing is one of the...

The Truth Behind Branding: Do You REALLY Need It?

As a small business owner, knowing the truth behind branding and how it will be used to help you...