• Hearst Pittsburgh

A Quick Guide to Advertising During a Political Window


It’s hard to ignore the dramatic uptick in political advertising flooding our region’s airwaves these days. Hotly contested senate and gubernatorial races mean that campaign ads are absorbing significant amounts of broadcast inventory. In fact, over $50 million dollars of political advertising spend is forecast to hit our market in the coming months, so savvy advertisers may need to reassess how they’ll reach their customers.


Advertising during a political year can be tricky, but the WTAE Hearst Pittsburgh team is experienced and actively developing plans to help our advertisers reach their ideal customers efficiently during periods of high political spending. Here are our best practices for sidestepping the challenges that big campaigns can present in advertising:

  1. Understand how political advertising works FCC regulations, known as “reasonable access rules,” date back to 1934 and protect political advertisers by ensuring that they have prioritized access to broadcast commercial windows. While this is a way to provide all candidates with equal opportunity to promote their campaign messages to the public, it leaves fewer spots for general advertisers.

  2. Know what to expect in the market In big political years like 2022, the competition to snag the limited ad spots on broadcast can become fierce. This often drives up prices and preemptions for general advertisers. Ads can get bumped and make-good restitution spots can be hard to come by during a period of heavy political activity

  3. Be proactive in planning If broadcast TV is a part of your media plan, it’s important to consider how a political advertising window in your market will impact your access to ad space ahead of elections. Work closely with your station rep to place buys early, strategically time flights around campaigning, and explore creative advertising platform alternatives during the window.

  4. Explore local digital advertising Digital advertising does not have limited inventory challenges like broadcast, and it does not fall under the same FCC provisions as traditional broadcast TV. Consider diversifying your advertising spend by placing digital ads in front of targeted audiences across any device using news station websites, native advertising, streaming ads, and more.

  5. Consider alternative linear TV options Political advertisers tend to spend most heavily in categories like news, sports, and weather. However, there are plenty of less competitive, and even non-preemptible ad opportunities available. For example, feel-good entertainment channels like COZI TV, not only give viewers a refresh from contentious political discourse; they also see less political activity and therefore carry less risk of preemption.

WTAE Hearst Pittsburgh offers a Political Avoidance Advertising Package that’s been specifically designed to minimize advertising disruption in years of increased political activity like 2022. The package combines our robust digital solutions and COZI TV ad spots, and advertisers can customize their plans by selecting their flight length as well as the number of guaranteed impressions.


To learn more about how this package can ensure your brand stays in front of an active news audience throughout the political window, download the 2022 Political Avoidance Package Overview.






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