Commentary

Presidential Advertising For 2020 Estimated To Hit As High As $10 Billion

TV stations hope that political advertising will continue to ramp up their fortunes.

Next year’s 2020 presidential-dominant political advertising activity may be the biggest -- possibly at $8.3 billion, according to PQ Media. Others have projected as high as $10 billion. Either way, a major chunk will go to TV stations.

PQ Media said the presidential election-fueled 2016 political advertising season totaled $7.24 billion.

Adding to this, Jeffrey Wlodarczak, entertainment/interactive subscription services analyst for Pivotal Research Group, wrote in a report on Comcast Corp. (and perhaps for the industry overall): “2020 should be a stellar year for high margin political advertising.”

We know what happened for U.S. political advertising the last time around -- especially around social media.

There was ample talk about it being a tool for bad actors -- specifically Russian-backed intermediaries on Facebook. An indictment from U.S. Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller said those involved spent some $1.25 million per month on ad campaigns and measured their efforts much as an ad agency would.

That may not be much money. But its influence? Perhaps more than meets the eye.

It begs the question: How will political advertising creative respond next year? Will any traditional or digital media creative bring up obvious political advertising-association troubles? Or will it all be fast, hard-hitting, negative stuff focused on opponents?

TV stations won’t care, as long as the money stays true to form.

The last time around, prospects for a big take were expected, and in part, achieved. PQ Media says some $3.4 billion headed to local TV stations, with direct mail at $1.6 billion; internet advertising at $455 million; and cable TV at $427 million.

It was slow to build for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, who only really ramped up paid-advertising efforts just after Labor Day. Until then, Trump basked in big-time earned-media stuff — coming from high-rated Republican presidential debate coverage, as well as lurid notorious press accounts highlighted by the news around the "Access Hollywood" tape, and other non-paid promotional efforts.

One might believe President Trump will play it the same way in 2020.

Trump will be energized around his live political campaign stops, full of wild stories of success, amplified by press coverage. (The fully aired TV launch of Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign a week ago in Florida — via Fox News Channel — pulled in nearly 5 million viewers between 8:15 and 9:30 p.m.)

Still, media experts may think: Isn’t this a rerun “The Presidential Apprentice”? Maybe it’s time for a new show.

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