With less than three months to go before Louisiana’s Oct. 12 all-party primary for governor, wealthy businessman Eddie Rispone is putting more than $1 million behind his opening TV ad. Rispone’s commercial doesn’t mention either Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards or Rep. Ralph Abraham, a fellow Republican who has not gone on the air yet. Instead, Rispone ties himself as closely to Donald Trump as possible.
Rispone begins by telling the audience, “I supported President Trump against Hillary, gave him money, put a bumper sticker on my truck, and I support our president more than ever against these liberal lunatics running now.” Rispone goes on to pledge, “I will work with President Trump to protect our constitutional rights, to ban sanctuary cities, and end taxpayer benefits for illegal immigrants in Louisiana.” The commercial ends with a picture of Rispone standing next to Trump.
A Rispone spokesman says that this spot will air for two weeks with more than $1 million behind it, and he couldn’t resist some trolling by saying this sum is probably more money than Abraham has in the bank. The campaign may not be bluffing because Rispone, who has self-funded almost his entire effort, enjoyed a huge $9.8 million to $1.3 million cash-on-hand lead over the congressman on July 4.
The GOP ad tracking firm Medium Buying also backs up Rispone’s claims, reporting on Monday that they’d tracked at least $1.2 million so far for this buy. Medium adds that Rispone’s buy is worth about 2,000 gross ratings points, or GRPs, in each of Louisiana’s seven media markets, which, as we’ll explain, is well above saturation level.
“Gross ratings points” is a term is rarely encountered by lay people but used universally by media buyers because it measures advertising impact across markets in a uniform way, regardless of how cheap or expensive ads actually are. In the pricey New York City media market, for instance, $1 million spent on TV won’t go nearly as far as it would in, say, Pittsburgh, where advertising is much more affordable.
GRPs solve that problem by gauging how many times, on average, members of your target audience have seen your ad, with one GRP equal to 1% of the audience watching an ad one time. In this case, where the buy is for 2,000 GRPs, a buyer might say that 100% of the audience has watched this spot 20 times, though of course it could also mean that 50% has seen it 40 times.
An old rule of thumb holds that a message advertised on broadcast television has reached saturation levels at 1,000 GRPs—in other words, when 100% of your audience has seen it 10 times. But in the modern multi-platform media landscape, abetted by the rise of DVRs, that number has crept ever higher, though there's no universal agreement about what constitutes saturation nowadays. Still, the 2,000 GRPs that Medium says Rispone’s buy is worth will almost certainly reach his entire intended TV audience.
Bear in mind, though, that these figures only take into account Rispone’s spending on television. To connect with its complete universe of targeted voters, a modern campaign must advertise on other media (including radio and online) and contact voters directly (by means such as mail or door-knocking).
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