The Best and Worst Programs for Political Advertising

As November draws closer, voters will be bombarded with political advertising. But there are some do's and don'ts when it comes to placing those ads.

Roll Call spoke with a number of political consultants about which programs they absolutely must advertise during and which ones they need to avoid. Here's some of those tips.

Prime political advertising opportunities:

  • Football – "Professional football, college football. It doesn’t matter: The Gridiron is ratings gold for political media buyers, even overshadowing Major League Baseball playoffs. What’s more, audiences almost always watch the game live, so they’re less likely to fast-forward through commercials. Even better for pols in peril: Women watch football, too."
  • Network talent shows like "Dancing With the Stars" – "Just like when they watch football, viewers don’t often skip through commercials on their DVRs while watching network talent shows. More importantly, the viewership for these shows are predominantly female."
  • CBS Primetime – "This network is a magnet for political media buyers because its traditional viewership is older than its peers. There’s the well-watched weekly newscast, “60 Minutes,” which media buyers say is a must-get for most candidates."
  • "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" – "The two long-time game shows are where advertisers reach seniors. A GOP media buyer described them as 'mainstays on every political buy for years and years,' for this reason."
  • Daytime talk shows – Next to seniors, women are probably the most targeted demographic for political ads. Looking for left leaning ladies? Media buyers say 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' is the place to find progressive women. Ondine Fortune, a Democratic media buyer, is jazzed about the new 'The Meredith Vieira Show' for its potential female audience reach."
  • Cable News – "Looking to reach base voters? Nothing beats Fox News and MSNBC."

Progamming to avoid with your political ad buys:

  • Trash TV like "The Maury Show" or "Jerry Springer" – "Trash and politics don’t mix. Or as Ondine Fortune, a Democratic media buyer said, 'You’re watching it and these people are screaming and yelling at each other about a baby daddy, and I don’t want my handsome congressman coming on next about how he’s making a difference.'”
  • Nickelodeon – "A surprising amount of women watch the children’s network with their kids, according to interviews with media buyers. By the numbers, it would be an obvious choice. But buyers beg off the channel because political commercials — especially attack ads — just don’t flow well with Fruit Roll-Up and My Little Pony pitches."
  • Daytime court programs – "Daytime court shows attract seniors — a desirable voting demographic — but one GOP media buyer compared such shows to the Maury Povich/Jerry Springer dynamic. In other words, campaigns are not inclined to see their candidates appear in ads next to people willing to display and argue about their private lives on live television."