Online Political Advertising Has A Lot Of Room To Grow

However stinking nasty political advertising is going to become this year, most of the stink -- in dollars at least -- will be coming from television. So said panelists at a conference yesterday held by the Television Bureau of Advertising.

Elizabeth Wilner, senior vice president of political advertising for Kantar Media Intelligence, predicted that $2.4 billion in political advertising will be spent on broadcast TV for this election, with another $600 million-$800 million spent on cable, reported TVNewsCheck. 

Online advertising is destined to remain the Harold Stassen also-ran in this race. Only a fraction of that kind of money will be spent on digital buys. 

It seems that one of the reasons all that advertising is there is that older people vote -- and, it so happens, older people watch TV more than they spend time online. There are obviously all the other factors that keep others away from online video advertising, too -- like suspicion about who’s seeing the ads, and plain old unfamiliarity.



By contrast, political advertisers know TV only too well. This TVB panel included some good barbs thrown at that medium, including general encouragement for broadcasters to take some of those billions in ad spend and spend it on better programming.

Still, there is a lot of uptick in digital -- just all in the minor leagues of money. Borrell Associates estimates $270 million will be spent in online advertising for the elections this year. This may sound meager but it's an 1,825% increase over 2010. 

Borrell says spending could top $1 billion in 2016 -- a presidential election year when the advertising pot gets ridiculously fat with candidate ads and other advertising bought by the special interests that want to own their very own president.

Wilner said at the TVB panel that there will be several races this year in which those special interest PACs will spend more than the candidates do -- and she said this is the first time that has happened. 

Online political advertising, however, is not the driver it is on television. Some specialists think one of the best attributes it offers candidates is that they won’t be crowded in between all the other political spots. That’s kind of a backhanded endorsement.

Randomly, there’s some evidence that politicians are losing some potential votes. The Off the Grid Survey, conducted by two digital ad firms, says that in a random week they sampled, 30% of the targeted ad base didn’t watch any TV at all.

It also could be that political spending on digital media is taking a whole different form, with a lot more action on social sites like Facebook and Twitter than other places like display or pre-roll. Kip Cassino, who authored the Borrell report I wrote about earlier, noted that “most of the activity, it seems, is by digital marketing managers working within the campaigns, managing social media and email communications directly with the electorate.”
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