Katz Forms Political Unit

NEW YORK In a bid to drive more political ad dollars to radio, Katz Media Group plans to launch a political unit and accompanying Web site to provide marketing and media solutions for candidates and issues advertisers.

The new unit will be headed by former senior account executive Genelle Niblack as vp, director of political sales and strategy. She will direct a team of about 15-20 other Katz Media staffers.

Unlike other advertising categories, political spending seems to be expanding with each election cycle. The 2008 presidential election year, which could begin to rev up as early as Q4 2007, promises to be no exception.

Despite the expected windfall, radio has come up short, getting only about 1 percent of the $2.3 billion spent on political ads in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. The lion’s share went to local TV.

“Radio has been underutilized as a media choice. We should be getting a share more proportional to the 7 percent we get on a regular basis,” said Stu Olds, CEO of Katz Media, who was expected to disclose details of the political unit Wednesday morning at a Get Out the Vote With Radio seminar in Washington, D.C., held jointly by the Radio Advertising Bureau and National Association of Broadcasters.

The goal of the unit is to make buying radio easier for political strategists. “Right now [political advertisers] have to cut too many checks. They have too many choices, and it’s difficult to execute campaigns across a large number of stations. We’re going to make buying radio the easiest thing they’ve ever done,” Olds said. With the new unit, political buyers will have a single point of contact. They can cut a single check and Katz will distribute the spots from a single source. In addition to advertising, Katz is offering online, mobile marketing and text messaging opportunities.

To help make the buying choices easier, Katz has configured the 3,000 radio stations it represents into several ready-made networks that political advertisers can use to target geographically, or by demographic, format, lifestyle, ethnicity and political preference. Buyers can also tap into Premiere Radio Networks, like Katz, a subsidiary of Clear Channel.

“TV can’t target as tightly as radio,” Olds said. “We can break it down to more levels and allow political advertisers to do more creative things tightly targeting audience segments that have different issues important to them.”