Local access programming has gone digital and given campaigns another channel to reach voters in early primary states.
Programming Corporation of America recently partnered with the Des Moines Register and WMUR in New Hampshire to make additional pre-roll inventory available to campaigns and PACs before its web series lineup, which includes “Barefoot and Alone,” “99 Counties” and “Swimming Hole Secrets.”
It’s not primetime TV, but at roughly a minute long the episodes are short enough to hold online viewers’ attention. With broadcast and cable TV ad inventory at a premium and some websites getting booked up as early as last spring, it could be an attractive political marketing venue.
“We’re flexible with how long the ad unit is, they just have to be skippable,” said Daniel Beckmann, founder and CEO of PCA. Interested campaigns “can approach us or they can contact the Des Moines Register or WMUR.”
The buy-direct approach is increasingly seen as a way to cut down on fraudulent traffic. For instance, Audience Partners recently announced a joint venture with Time Inc., called CampaignFocus, that’s a way for the company to place their clients’ ads directly onto digital properties like People.com.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has signed on with PCA. The Democrat has a 30-second preroll spot running before “99 Counties,” whose episodes are one-minute documentaries on local idiosyncrasies.
“The campaigns that have been making use of this, they’ve been able to reach the same audience for a lot less than television,” said Beckmann.
Beckmann said his company is modeled on Current TV, the Al Gore-backed user-generated channel that was bought by Al Jazeera in 2013.
“Our goal is to be a national network that can reach the audience with very specific programming. We’re a broadcast network for the Internet,” said Beckmann. “There’s not enough locally produced, high-quality programming out there. Between local news and local newspapers, there’s nothing.”
Beckmann noted their Iowa audience is skewing toward women in their mid-40s while their New Hampshire audience is mostly mid-50s men, although for “Swimming Hole Secrets” the demographic is more mid-20s male.
PCA plans to begin streaming in South Carolina, Nevada, Florida and other key states during primary season.
“There is a correlation in being interested in your local community and also supporting candidates,” said Beckmann. “We think this is a good platform for [campaigns.]”