Political Revenues Bring Stations Joy And Happiness, Maybe

by , Sep 6, 2012, 4:09 PM
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It's September, and the real push for political advertising is about to start. Estimates are that 75% of all political spending goes into the last seven to eight weeks of any political race. And, of course, we have a big one sitting out there.

Not only that, but it's estimated that nearly 25% more political media advertising money will be spent on TV stations and networks than last time, getting to $3.37 billion, with overall spend at some $5.2 billion.. The biggest piece? Local TV looks to grab $2.8 billion.

But how many people will actually get the message? The blizzard of commercials, as well as the rise of Political Action Committee money, threatens to raise the content to mind-numbing and confusing levels.

Complicating this, political marketing will face a harder challenge from some not-so-new technology. Nearly half the country now has DVRs and we know that at best (for marketers) commercial skipping occurs at a 60% rate. At worst? Some research says it's as high as 80%.

From TV stations point of view, regular advertisers are pushed out of the picture because political advertisers get pre-emption rights for airing their time-sensitive commercials.

Analysts say that, for the first time in history, the challenger in this presidential race, Mitt Romney, is now out-raising political money over the incumbent, President Barack Obama. And that money will be used to plow even more TV commercial messaging in the way of voting citizens.

Where does this media equation lead? Some would say to a higher volume of political noise without much substance. Some would say that better targeting on digital platforms should be the answer. Too late for that, this time around.

For TV stations, the rush of political advertising dollars is a welcoming flow -- especially considering the difficult year stations had following the last presidential election.

Some months after the fall 2008 economic turmoil, stations didn't just get hit with their usual post-election year hangover, but suffered massively because of a near-depression like atmosphere. Ad dollars went into free-fall, tumbling 25% to 30% or more versus the year before.

All this would lead one to believe that stations should be somewhat optimistic and hopeful. But many know better than that, especially in the light of slow efforts to raise the profile and revenues of their branded digital platforms.

As is the rule, TV political messages should be sold at the lowest unit rate. And this year, stations have to show everyone those political ad rates and information on website areas. Nice.

Four years from now, how much advertising hoopla will stations be anticipating while on the verge of the last eight weeks of a presidential election?

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