Why do agencies generally pay more money for issue ads? Are stations providing the lowest unit rate, even for political issue groups?
Experience says in retail media buying and planning one must contact stations, request avails and notify stations of the client, flight dates, and demo. Typically, stations send the rate card and then buyers negotiate the rates based on cost per point. Agencies user their historical cost per point to help gauge a market cost per point. Simple enough.
So here I am at a political/advocacy shop. Candidate buying varies slightly from retail with the biggest difference being posting and the rate card structure. Political windows are one unique aspect to political media buying – 45 days before a primary race the political window opens up and 60 days before the general election the window reopens. During that time the stations must give candidates the lowest rate a station has to offer for a specific time period. When stations send candidate cards they must have the various levels of rates that will clear. The lowest rate is supposed to go to the candidate if the flight falls into the window.
Interestingly enough, when agencies negotiate buys outside of the window, stations are not required to give political candidates the lowest until rate. At this time agencies must acquire regular rate cards and negotiate based off of those. I am currently in a situation in a state wide race and I was able to place a few weeks outside the window. Now we are going to be approaching the window when the rates are going to be lower. To be continued…
Why are issue groups automatically moved to the top of the card? “Highest level on the card” is what most reps say. But why? Because it HAS to run. The Fixed Non-preemptible rates simply mean that clients want their spots to run as ordered with no problems. But the problem the definition of this level is that some stations send makegoods and the resulting GRPs don’t match what was originally placed. When things are placed at the lowest level they are more likely to be pre-empted, but most of time it runs! Well I am going to get to the bottom of this. Over the next few months I am going to document and research issue rates. Smart Media Group has a very good reputation of negotiating and collecting public files. We have proved many times over to be getting a better rate for our candidates. I am hoping to prove the same thing with issue.
I quote a friend who works in radio sales, “oh whenever we get an avail for issue we always bump up the rates by at least 50%”. Really? Is this fair? Issue advertisers are helping stations make up their loss budgets. That is obviously my opinion on the matter. This statement alone makes me want to investigate.