Political Preparedness 2022

The 2022 mid-terms are shaping up to be an unprecedented political event.

  • A possible $9 billion dollars spent would be the most expensive mid-term ever.
  • While broadcast TV is still the key media, expect as much as $1.5 billion in political to be spent on CTV.
  • There are over 2000 contested political races across the country, including 36 gubernatorial, 435 U.S. House, and 34 U.S. Senate races. The rest are local and state elections.

The political window doesn’t mean that advertisers should entirely go dark, nor does it mean we should spend like lottery winners. Our clients should pace themselves and anticipate challenges. With flexibility and communication between planners, client liaisons, and buyers, advertisers can still enjoy fruitful campaigns.

Political media basics

Federal candidates are guaranteed “reasonable access” to spots. Stations can’t deny candidates spots or limit the number of spots they buy. Stations can set limits to state and local candidates, but they still enjoy Lowest Unit Rate (LUR) rules.

  • Political windows are the 45 days before a primary or 60 days prior to the general election. In 2020, the political window opens on Friday, September 9, 2022.
  • Lowest Unit Rates (LUR) is the amount offered or charged to the station’s most preferred advertiser. Candidates must be guaranteed the LUR.
  • Reasonable access means that stations must sell time to federal candidates like President, Vice President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, without limitations to spot access. They can buy as many as they want. Stations can limit the federal spending in news programs, but they must be consistent and not limit to one party. No favoritism.

Suggestions to combat inventory pressure

  • Buy early and revise if necessary. The best way to avoid the uncertainty of political windows is to buy before your competition or political candidates do. Plan and buy multiple quarters at a time. Be in the market at least a quarter ahead. To crush that Fall political window, plan for an early summer spec release. You can always revise your schedules within a two-week window. It’s easier to revise than realize you have nowhere to go.
  • CPPs will inevitably go up in political seasons. Demand varies by market/state, and the battleground states will receive more spending than the reliably partisan ones. However, all markets see more politics than in the past. Due to PACs and limitless fundraising, war chests are full and candidates spend voraciously. A good rule of thumb is a 5% – 8% increase over previous year to account for raised rates inside the primary and general election windows.
  • Be flexible with your dayparts, programming, and makegoods. Many local advertisers like heavy local news in their daypart mix. Unfortunately, in a political year, those are also the dayparts that candidates crave. Look toward other areas.
    • Avoid news magazine programs or Sunday political talk shows where politicians editorialize. Those will become target programming for competing political ads.
    • Most political airs in EM, DT, EN, LN.
    • Prime Access and Prime are expensive but may have more open avails.
    • Late Fringe may offer more value than DT or EF.
  • Be open to cable. Allow dollars to shift to cable networks where they have more insertable networks. Even cable news may have more avails than local news in battleground states. There are enough local breaks on most cable networks to mitigate political candidates’ logjam.
  • Explore other video alternatives. Pre-roll video, Video-On-Demand, and CTV are available locally and stations are eager to sell these venues. Diversifying your plans keeps the money in the market. Your spots will work for alternative videos with no extra effort.
  • What about local radio? While News/Talk/Sports radio formats naturally attract political traffic, most mainstream radio stations are slower to get in on candidates’ spending. Most politicians wait until right before the election to purchase heavy radio schedules. Moving campaign money to radio will increase reach and frequency for media plans without breaking the budget.
  • Consider sponsorships and non-traditional alternatives. Advertisers can buy packages and sponsorships on local stations that are considered protected schedules. They aren’t subject to bumps by candidate ads and are typically non-cancellable. The deliverables include a sponsorship mention, usually with a logo and :03 copy, and are typically followed by an adjacent :30 or :10. These range from news billboards, weather bug, crawl messaging, community calendars, sports updates, etc.
  • Added Value is spartan, if not non-existent. Stations rarely capitulate to added value demands during political windows. Buying teams and advertisers should be flexible or creative. Negotiate for the added value to air before or after the political windows. Some stations will offer more creative solutions. Be open and flexible.

What markets should we avoid? Is anywhere safe?

We don’t have to avoid any state or market, but we must be smart about when we go in, what media we are planning, and how flexible our parameters can be. Some states will see more competitive primaries than general elections. That said, some states expect more dollars than others:

Hottest states for 2022 political spending:

Florida – Gubernatorial
Ohio – Senate
Pennsylvania – Senate
Arizona – Senate
North Carolina – Senate
Michigan – Gubernatorial
Texas – Gubernatorial, House (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Laredo)
Georgia – Gubernatorial, Senate
Nevada – Senate
Wisconsin – Senate, Gubernatorial
Wyoming – House (at-large)

What happens after the election?

Just as all the ballots are unlikely to be counted by Wednesday, November 8, the day after the election doesn’t signal an all-clear for advertising to return to normal.

Many non-political spots will be left on sales department floors. Stations and buyers will begin the mad scramble to get what’s been preempted in the previous weeks back on air in-flight. Expect there to be a frenzy of ad activity in the November election’s aftermath. It takes a little time for things to normalize after the general elections… if there’s ever a “normal” in our business these days.


Meta’s Day of Reckoning
Judgement Day

February 3, 2022 – Meta Inc. stock plummets 26 percent, losing a jaw-dropping $250 billion in valuation in a single day. Zuckerberg himself saw his personal net worth drop $29 billion, 25 percent of his overall value. For context, that loss alone is near the top 100 list of GDPs by country.

This record-setting loss in market cap will go down as the biggest in history. The stock price has further declined weeks after the initial descent in what appears to be a bearish run for the tech giant.

Behind the Scenes

What could possibly be at the center of this road to ruin? Not as much as you may think.

The news comes after the company met Q4 revenue goals but missed earnings-per-share projections. What spoke the loudest, however, was the flagship platform, Facebook, seeing its first-ever loss in daily active users. Facebook’s global DAUs dropped by 10 million compared to the previous quarter, decreasing from a mere 1.3 to 1.29 billion. This milestone is the first time in Facebook’s 17-year history that active users have shown a decrease.

Daily and Monthly Active Users have become a core metric in Wall Street to apply valuations to Meta and tech platforms alike. It signals the number of people regularly using the platform, leading to estimations of perceived usage and ability to generate revenue. More platform usage leads to more inventory, and more inventory leads to more potential for the company to generate revenue. To put it in perspective, a town with 5,000 people has limited billboard space compared to a city of 5 million.

Zuckerberg offered up TikTok as the primary culprit of this decline, noting the popularity boom of the Chinese-owned platform has driven increased competition. TikTok is attracting the younger generation as their primary social media site. As a result, they may not see Facebook as relevant to them, especially since its where their parents and grandparents are interacting.

It’s not all teens, however. TikTok currently reaches over 30 million millennials who also may be seeking a different form of entertainment from the standard Facebook feed and newer placements like Watch. While Meta’s Instagram platform sees success with younger demographics, Facebook has lost the battle of capturing the 12- to 17-year-old demographic. Instead, Facebook’s global presence has reached a point of market saturation with older demographics.

This also isn’t the first time Meta has seen such a record loss. Less than four years ago, in wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company saw the eighth highest decline in market cap in a single day at $120 billion. The difference here is that the previous scandals and controversies were something they could theoretically overcome. The decrease in DAUs signals a new problem: the current population of the earth.

And this is where the foundational concern of Facebook’s slip in DAUs poses a problem with Wall Street. As its older users age out, the battle for youth becomes a necessity for long-term sustainability. Instagram will keep Meta afloat, but we will continue to see product updates–such as Reels–attract younger generations. Further acquisitions are a likely development as well, along with its work-in-progress ecosystem for the metaverse to which they are investing $150 million over the next 3 years.

Following Up

From an advertising perspective, platform growth is important for investment and performance, too. The increased inventory allows for a larger, addressable audience and the ability to reach more of the users who are important to our businesses. Where there is scale, there is efficiency. This initial decline that Facebook has seen, however, is a drop in the cyberspace bucket that signals the earliest stages of a multi-year decline for an otherwise top investment choice. This is the key reason why the stock decline doesn’t signal a change that requires immediate, largescale shifts for advertisers.

Even after this update, Meta properties have three of the only six platforms to have 1 billion Global Monthly Users with Whatsapp and Instagram on the prestigious list. Facebook messenger, in seventh place, is even nearing 1 billion itself. From a US perspective, Meta’s reach still heavily outnumbers even the closest competition by a landslide. TikTok, Meta’s closest competitor in terms of MAUs, reached a milestone of 90 MAUs, falling short of the 126 million and 180 million users currently on Instagram and Facebook, respectively. Pair this with Meta’s best-in-class ad tech and it makes for a strong rationale as to why Facebook and Instagram will still be included within nearly every digital campaign strategy for years to come.

It does indicate that Facebook isn’t as indestructible as it once seemed in terms of user growth. It, too, has a breaking point. It was just one that took two-thirds of the global population to break it. What it really says is that this is the beginning of the very slow end for Facebook as a platform in its current state. The metaverse will certainly play a role here, but this impact is something that cannot yet be stated.

As Facebook’s user base ages and the metaverse progresses, Meta will need to step up their battle for the younger generation that seems to be blinded by the ring lights for their next TikTok post.


Augmented Reality “Try-On” Technology Launches for Pinterest Home Décor Category
Augmented Reality (AR) has come a long way since the 2016 launch of Pokémon GO.

It has shaped the way we filter our Instagram Stories, the way we travel in our vehicles, and even the way we shop.

While augmented reality filters are not as sophisticated as virtual reality (VR) systems like the Oculus Quest, they do have one huge advantage in its breakout to the mass market.

Unless you’re at a computer, you’re probably holding it right now.

What is Augmented Reality (AR) “Try-On” Technology?

Virtual try-on functionalities became popular on smartphones as Instagram and Snapchat rolled out real-time image filters, which allowed users to see themselves distorted by things like new makeup or whacky hairstyles.

While fascinating and largely seen as somewhat of a joke early on, filters started to become interwoven into the fabric of users’ own image. More filters appeared, like “Starburst” and “Glow Up,” and users began defaulting to image filters even in common scenarios.

That, combined with the constant availability of smartphones, has paved the way for mass acceptance of augmented reality.

As the technology advanced and became more available, other companies began experimenting with the try-on functionalities to promote their products.

Thanks to our mainstream apps, AR technology became second nature to consumers who are now ready to jump at the chance to test their favorite brands’ new products virtually.

You can find this technology in companies like Amazon, Instagram, IKEA, and, more recently, Pinterest.

Why Does Pinterest Use It?

Pinterest’s core competency is promotion of ideas through Pins. Since their demographic is largely millennial women, beauty brands flock to the app like moths to a flame.

The existing AR technology launched originally in early 2020 and enabled users to “try on” lipstick and eyeshadow within the Pins themselves. There was also an option to buy products as they exited the filter.
Now, that technology is being rolled out to the Home Décor sector inside of Pinterest. The category has rolled out over 80,000 shoppable Pins, surpassing the existing number of beauty Pins (14,000) by more than 5x.

With this technology, you can point your phone camera to a section of your home and the AR technology will feed an image of the product into that exact spot in the house.

That means you could see exactly how a new couch would look in a certain place in your home before you even buy. Almost overnight, the world of interior designers is changed forever!

Pinterest reports that nine out of every ten Pinners use Pinterest for Home Décor research & inspiration and are 5x more likely to purchase from try on-enabled Pins than standard Pins.

This augmented reality technology is critical to Pinterest’s ambitions in the social commerce world, and Home Décor retailers are only too eager to join them on the app.

Why Do Companies/Sellers Use It?

Companies like Wayfair, Crate & Barrel, CB2, Walmart, and West Elm have already set up AR try-on Pins and have embraced this nonlinear approach to consumer sales habits.

This type of try-on approach would drastically decrease refunds and would enable a seamless experience between in-store and online habits.

Customers can check things like couch fabric designs against their wall paint or carpet colors against their hardwood floor just by pointing their phone camera at an empty space in their house.

If consumers are perfectly satisfied buying via AR technology, companies are only too happy to reduce store hours and save on retail associate salaries.

Reducing foot traffic overall cuts companies’ costs, creating more efficiency through online-only transactions, and enabling data collection across bigger and bigger sample sizes.

What is Empower’s Reaction?

Empower’s goal has always been and continues to be to meet the customer where they are with the right message, at the right time.

This technology is the next step toward the transition from historically brick & mortar brands into part-time Direct-to-Consumer retailers.

Stores that adopted this technology during the partial shutdowns in 2020 and 2021 floated to the surface, while traditional in-person shopping was put on hold.

It also forecasts a required ongoing presence in the “Metaverse.”

The parallel dimension of Augmented Reality has become entirely commonplace, meaning that Empower and its clients must work to establish presence in that dimension.

Next, we need to monitor consumer behaviors inside of these AR technologies. Which AR technology is most user-friendly? Are consumers more or less brand-loyal in these spaces? Are consumers happy with their physical purchase after the “try-on” period led to a sale?

These are questions that all companies face in 2022 and, as strong advertisers, we must be ready to answer these questions with powerful data and valuable solutions.

Empower Wins Best of Show Again at 2022 Cincinnati ADDY Awards
The Creative Agency of the Year Brings Home 22 Gold and Silver Awards Total

CINCINNATI – (March 4, 2022) – Empower: The Un-Holding Company was the most awarded agency at the Cincinnati American Advertising Awards. The standing ovation received after winning best in Best of Show for its Grind Before You Shine video series documenting the agency’s very own Search Specialist Annette Echikunwoke’s Olympic journey in Hammer Throw was just one of many that Empower’s talented team received at the award ceremony.

“Winning Best of Show for the second year in a row reinforces Empower is Cincinnati’s leading Creative as well as Media agency,” said Rob FitzGerald, president and COO at Empower. “Our creative prowess permeates from client work and the work we do for ourselves… thanks to our in-house content studio and talented team who create on the fly. The Grind Before You Shine story is sentimental to the company in many ways, but also shows the range of what we’re capable of,” he said.

Empower also earned Gold for Creative work done for clients Skyline Chili and TriHealth as well as the agency’s 2021 holiday campaign Retail of 03 Cities.

Earning Silver are a variety of comedic agency-life based videos created to rejuvenate Empower’s culture in the height of the pandemic, including Empower Gets a Robot, Empower WFH… Still, and a unique take on the benefits of working at The Un-Holding Company. Empower also earned Silver for a social media campaign for client American Standard–the same brand that won two National Gold ADDY Awards and Best of Show at the Cincinnati ADDY Awards in 2021 for #Flush2020 led by Empower.

See below for a full list of awards won and which entries placed at Districts* and are moving onto Nationals.


Grind Before You Shine Series

  • Best of Show, Film, Video & Sound
  • Gold, Film, Video, & Sound / Webisode Series*
  • Gold, Elements of Advertising / Video Editing*

Grind Before You Shine, episode 4

  • Gold, Elements of Advertising / Cinematography*
  • Gold, Film, Video, & Sound / Webisode*

Grind Before You Shine, episode 5

  • Gold, Film, Video, & Sound / Webisode*

Grind Before You Shine, episode 6

  • Gold, Film, Video, & Sound / Webisode*

TriHealth Pop Health

  • Gold, Elements of Advertising / Art Direction, Campaign*
  • Gold, Elements of Advertising / Art Direction*
  • Silver, Film, Video, & Sound / Local TV Advertising
  • Silver, Film, Video, & Sound / Local TV Advertising Campaign
  • Silver, Integrated Advertising Campaigns / Consumer, Local
  • Silver, Online Interactive/ Social Media, Campaign

Skyline Block of the Week

  • Gold, Online/Interactive / Social Media Campaign

Skyline Block of the Week (13 days)

  • Silver, Elements of Advertising / Music with Lyrics

Skyline Block of the Week: Cheese Turkey

  • Silver, Film, Video, & Sound / Branded Content & Entertainment: Film, Video, & Sound

American Standard Poodle

  • Silver, Online Interactive/ Social Media, Campaign

Retail of 03 Cities

  • Gold, Corporate Social Responsibility / Ambient Media
  • Gold, Corporate Social Responsibility / Marketing & Specialty Advertising Campaign
  • Silver, Integrated Media / Corporate Social Responsibility Campaign

Empower Works from Home… Still (Terry Dillon, Stephanie Calloway & The Glovers)

  • Silver, Film, Video, & Sound / Branded Content & Entertainment – Non-Broadcast

Empower Gets a Robot

  • Silver, Branded Content & Entertainment – Non-Broadcast


  • Silver, Elements of Advertising / Music with Lyrics

Read more about the night’s winnings in The Cincinnati Business Courier’s “Top Cincinnati Agency Wins Big at 2022 Addy Awards” article.

About The ADDYS

The American Advertising Awards, aka the ADDYS, is one of the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 40,000 entries every year in local AAF Ad Club competitions. The mission of the American Advertising Awards competition is to recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising.

Conducted annually by the AAF, the local Ad Club phase is the first of a three-tier, national competition. Concurrently, all across the country, local entrants vie to win ADDY Awards—recognition as the very best in their markets. At the second tier, local ADDY winners compete against winners from other local clubs in one of 15 district competitions. District ADDY winners are then forwarded to the third tier, the national stage of the American Advertising Awards. Entry in your local Ad Club competition is the first step toward winning a national ADDY.

About Empower Media 

America’s largest woman-owned media agency

Our advantage is simple: Clients first – not shareholders.

From the day we opened our doors in 1985, Empower has always challenged the media status quo.

Empower is a highly awarded and respected media agency. We are a multi-year recipient of “Agency of the Year” from MediaPost and Campaign US with honors from Ad Age and Adweek.

Our senior and experienced integrated team of Communications Strategy, Media Innovation, Media Planning and Buying, Creative, Marketing Scientists, Influencer Marketing and Data-Analytics work in collaboration on our client’s business daily.

Empower’s client tenure rate is unmatched–3X the industry average. Our clients include Tempur Sealy, Wendy’s, Brooks Running, Fifth Third Bank, Gorilla Glue, O'Keeffe's, E.W. Scripps, Jack Link’s, VTech, Bush Brothers, Zaxby’s, GNC, Famous Footwear, Ashley, LIXIL, O-Cedar, Rust-Oleum and RoC Skincare.

Empower Media is woman-run (67% female) and woman-owned – making it the largest woman-owned media agency in America.

Our offices are in Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta, New York, Houston and Palm Beach.

Find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and online.

Cincinnati Biz Courier Cover Story: Cincinnati’s Largest Ad Agency, Enters New Phase of Growth
Hot off a pandemic year that saw double-digit revenue and staff growth, Empower, the city’s largest advertising agency, has passed the proverbial test.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” “fails occasionally, learns continuously” and “dust yourself off” are common in Jim Price’s lexicon.

Spend any time with Price, and it becomes clear how those quotes have played a fundamental role in his guiding of Empower, the Cincinnati-based agency, into its next, and arguably most exciting, phase.

In 2021, Empower celebrated double-digit staff and revenue growth while adding to its client roster. It took home 38 awards and recognitions, including nods from some of the nation’s largest industry players. Each honor is now etched on stairs that connect the four floors of Empower’s swanky Over-the-Rhine office. Since 2020, the agency has also ranked as Cincinnati’s largest advertising and marketing firm.

Read the full cover story here.