Commentary

Political Advertising: More Revenue, Still Some Headaches For TV Stations

Political advertising continues to be the real wildcard for TV stations’ advertising results -- especially in that every-other-year cycle of mid-term/presidential elections. 

So far, the best year was the presidential election year 2012 , when $3.1 billion was spent.

Next year, the 2016 presidential race, we can expect another record. And we already have a good head start.  Those crazy political ad spending guys, the Koch brothers, are already planning to spend $889 million through their associated political action committees By way of comparison, in 2012, the Kochs’ network spent just under $400 million -- then an incredible total.

Some are estimating 2016 might see a “4” or“5” in front of the “billion” word when all is said and done. Looking at the previous numbers, this might not sound so far-fetched. In 2010, the mid-term election political season tracked just over $2 billion in ad spend -- which grew around 50% by 2012.

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The downside for TV stations is that they need to offer the lowest unit price for politicians. Also, during the political season, year-in, year-out marketers in the automotive, retail, and financial categories can get pushed aside when it comes to media placement.

Still the positives outweigh the negatives. That projected $5 billion would amount to 25% of some $21 billion in total local TV revenue in 2016, according to a number of estimates.  By way of comparison, the $3.1 billion political advertising level in 2012 was set against a $20 billion total in 2012: a 15% share

Now TV stations must hope their multi-hour daily local news programming -- long a place that political candidates and PAC money find comfortable -- will continue to yield stable viewership.

3 comments about "Political Advertising: More Revenue, Still Some Headaches For TV Stations ".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 24, 2015 at 7:38 p.m.

    Which also means the avails for other clients disappear and rates increase for what is left. Do not be surprised when some of those accounts find ways to buy around traditional broadcast and do not return when the same broadcast media needs them. Then again, the torturous cacophony of slogans without merit/consequence of actions may drown out direct viewership.

  2. Roy Moskowitz from Reciprocal Results, March 2, 2015 at 11:49 a.m.

    @PaulaLynn On the other hand, candidates in DMAs with multiple Congressional districts such as NY, should never advertise on broadcast, where 95 percent of the audience does not live in your district and can't vote for you. In some districts in those DMAs, sometimes cable is viable, sometimes it isn't. In NYC, Cable for Staten Island makes sense, but there is too much waste for it to be viable for Brooklyn. Ironically, 30 percent of Staten Island's Congressional seat, which encompasses all of Staten Island, is in Brooklyn. Congressional candidates for this seat should buy cable for Staten Island, but not for Brooklyn. Candidates for Office in markets where buying broadcast or cable results in mostly waste, but want to their advertising to have the same impact on voters as commercials, should buy geo-targeted online video. Most sites and ad networks offer zip code based inventory and some such as Huffington Post even sell avails based on individual congressional districts.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 2, 2015 at 8:48 p.m.

    Roy, very true about humongous amounts of waste. The problem is again the media. They want TV because they are not getting the response and notoriety on line even when the targeting is better. There is something terribly wrong with the entire process.

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