Television's influence for political parties

May 16, 2019

If you’re anything like me you couldn’t have missed the blanket television advertising during the election campaign despite my viewership patterns moving to more non-commercial options. 

 

Political lobbying in the form of advertising has created a never ending loop of claims and counter claims. I pity the voter trying to make sense of it all.

 

There’s ads for the 'Bill We Can’t Afford', there's advertising framing the (still relatively new) PM Scott Morrison as a 'good everyday Aussie bloke' (Scomo to his mates) and the endless contribution from Clive Palmer who, I believe, has wisely controlled the media dialogue he can't secure via interviews. The man simply doesn't come off well in the media and he has obviously listened to someone who told him to keep quiet. 

 

Clive’s deep pockets has sparked a spike in support amongst financially distressed Australians who feel, no matter which of the two major parties wins, nothing will change for them.

 

There’s more political information source options for voters these days - from podcasts to traditional television, radio, social media, newspapers and other sources of news (and fake news) we wouldn’t have imagined when I first started voting.

 

 

Some may argue television’s influence is on the wane, it still commands enormous respect amongst voters as their major source of political information. Our poll clearly shows that television remains the highest cut through medium with 66% of voters saying they recall political advertising on television. 

 

While our television audiences are hungry for content, facts and figures about the Federal Election, our research shows advertising in other channels perhaps hasn’t cut through in the way the parties would have hoped.  Television advertising recall is followed by 28% who recall political advertising in social media or radio. 

 

The media's political advertising blackout for radio and television advertising couldn’t have come quick enough for those sick of seeing the same political ads on high rotation but they won't escape the onslaught digitally. Clive’s money will, for a brief period, be of no use to him in traditional media but expect the anti to increase across the board in other formats over the next few days. 

 

I have thought for sometime that the radio and television blackout itself is a bit old school. A blackout of television and radio advertising in 2019 is now ineffective and lost on most in our industry who are armed with the ability to target a more digitally savvy and connected voter via a raft of media including streamed versions of the very same television and radio we are locked out of in a traditional analogue world. 

 

There’s a general disapproval of how politicians have conducted themselves in recent years amongst voters. A lack of confidence in politicians actually delivering on their promises despite the carefully crafted messages permeates the voting public.

 

A stunning 4 out of 5 people we polled don’t think election promises will be kept, with a particular lack of hope for those promises that are not set to come in for several years, with some not scheduled until 2024 which is likely to be after another Federal Election. As one respondent said "I think they think we are stupid out here in Western Sydney". 

 

This means that while television advertising still remains potent for those seeking influence and support, Australian voters aren’t buying what the parties are selling in large numbers. Over 35% of voters tell us that they don't believe either major party is really interested in the concerns of real voters like them. This has seen the appeal of independents and fringe interest groups increase amongst the average voter and I can't help wonder if our politicians have missed the fact that the average Australian is primarily worried about the cost of living. They don't really explain how a 'fair go for Australians' or how 'making Australia great' actually helps them keep a roof over their head and put food on the table this week let alone next week. 

The real ‘media return on investment’ will come at Saturday’s poll. At polling booths across Australia, corflutes, how to vote cards and major party candidate brochures will provide visual reminders from the television ads.  A predicted tight race suggests to me that television advertising will actually be a critical tool in reaching disaffected and undecided voters for the likes of Clive Palmer. 

 

For me, it will be fascinating to see how the media spend stacks up against the voters’ verdict. If I were a betting woman I would say that Clive does better than his opposing forces think he will. His campaign might just become the most perfect case history for the power of advertising. 

 

Glenda Wynyard is the Managing Director of the Media Precinct.

 

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