What Will Happen To Paid Media After The Election?

What do you expect after the election from a paid media standpoint if Biden wins or if Trump wins?

As Americans head to the polls, advertisers and publishers need to remain agile with their paid media strategies. There’s a lot we can’t know about what comes next.

“As we’ve seen throughout several points this year, it's all about staying flexible, making sure messaging is relevant and appropriate – but not going dark,” said Ken Blom, SVP of ad strategy and partnerships at BuzzFeed.

The good news: Whoever wins, ad spend will continue to recover, said Stephen DiMarco, chief digital officer at Kantar. Both candidates have pledged to focus on the economy as a priority, DiMarco said, and that should enable large brands to invest in both national and regional advertising, despite the recession.

Even so, buyers and sellers need to plan for either – and any – outcome. Which is why we asked them, “What do you expect after the election from a paid media standpoint if Biden wins or if Trump wins?

Click above or scroll down for their answers.

Ken Blom, SVP, ad strategy and partnerships, BuzzFeed

“Through the pandemic we've experienced the need to be more flexible in both ad buying and execution, and this strategy applies to the election too, since there are so many potential outcomes and the situation is constantly changing.

At times like these, both advertisers and suppliers should continue to be more reactive and pay close attention to how consumers are responding to advertising. This means being ready to pivot to new strategies, products, creative or messaging from all parties as we adjust to market feedback.

We expect that advertisers have been planning for both scenarios for some time now.”

Paul Bannister, chief strategy officer, CafeMedia

“Big changes in advertising will more be driven by how close the results of the election are. If the election is close and leads to a period of weeks – or more – of uncertainty, we're likely to see a pullback, whereas a more resounding victory will help keep things in more of a ‘business as usual’ mode.

Since Q4, and particularly the second half of Q4, is so important to so many advertisers, the desire will be to execute on those plans and try to put a good finish onto 2020, regardless of the winner. Also, if there is a dispute, people may be looking for distractions, so streaming TV services, music or even new recipes to cook could be ways for brands to engage via paid and help people through any anxiety.”

Manuel Vigo, marketing and operations manager, Haystack News

“Larger structural changes in the pay TV marketplace have hit their peak in 2020 with the pandemic and economic disruption acting as significant catalysts for OTT growth, particularly in the presentation and consumption of news content.

News consumption has accelerated this year and remains remarkably strong for us, our programming suppliers and the major cable news networks. The buildup to the election has made every day seemingly into another news cycle unto itself. We are seeing an acceleration in ad dollars shifting from traditional TV over to connected TV, with CPMs reaching record highs.”

Michael Lehman, SVP, global supply, TripleLift

“If current polling is even remotely accurate, a Trump win will likely take days to declare, and if the margins are as slim as predicted, he may demand a recount. Should Biden win, the GOP has already set the stage for a judicial battle. Both scenarios could take weeks to resolve and mean a prolonged period of intense media scrutiny and coverage, as well as nationwide anxiety and rapt attention, if not protest and outrage.

In the world of digital media, this means a crush of digital and CTV buying opportunities for a deeply engaged, yet highly tense audience.

Some may determine that the content and national mood is too risky to advertise against and either go dark entirely or pull back on digital and social in lieu of more brand safe CTV environments. Others, in particular performance-buyers, might use that pullback in digital as an opportunity for low cost buying and arbitrage. Clever marketers, meanwhile, could weave the moment into their creative and narrative – perhaps on topics around unity and democracy – similar to some of the thoughtful and timely creative during the social unrest this summer.”

Steve Passwaiter, VP and GM, Kantar Media’s political ad monitoring practice

“The bottom line is, we have no idea. We have to see what comes down before we can get an idea of what, if anything, ends up happening.

There’s money ready to go if there are disputed vote counts, allegations of fraud and the like. The PACs will have plenty of money for ads – and both sides have lawyered up heavily in case this occurs.”

Answers have been edited and condensed.

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