Forecast: 8 Million Political TV Ads Expected In 2020

Don’t worry so much about digital media and social media when it comes to the 2020 presidential election. Worry much more about traditional TV advertising — and other stuff.

Advertising Analytics predicts the number of TV ads will sharply rise the next time around — at least on broadcast TV — with some 8 million broadcast airings of political TV ads, versus 5.5 million in 2018. That’s 45% higher.

We imagine much of the rise will come from the low bar set by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016. His campaign didn’t feel the need to spend a lot on political advertising until late in the game.

At the same time, think about traditional TV audience erosion when making some of these calculations. How do you make up for sinking viewers across the entire TV landscape? Perhaps that accounts for the higher frequency of political TV spots.



Overall, Advertising Analytics sees a total of $6 billion coming from all political media spending -- traditional TV, direct mail, digital media and social media.

Not that social media will be left out of the mix. Far from it.

Digital videos, which often appear on social-media platforms, are forecast to more than double in 2020 over 2018. Political messaging will be top of mind — no matter where you go.

Here’s the rub for 2020 and beyond: TV stations are increasingly dependent on this revenue source, which rises every other year — part of the political advertising spikes that come in two-year periods: the presidential election and, almost as big, the midterm elections.

Not surprisingly, TV stations continue to ply their airwaves with more TV news programming throughout the day. Political advertising works well in this news environment.

At the same time, it also means collateral damage for “core” non-political advertisers, which can be bumped out of their schedules due to political messages that can preempt regular advertising.

But will more noise create more confusion? Perhaps those mischievous concerns, especially those identified as notorious Russian-internet sites bent on their own U.S. political messaging, are watching this environment as well.

So forget about traditional media stuff for the moment. What are those bad actors’ media plans for next year?

Maybe we need some political advertising estimates for them.

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