The political advertising bonanza has begun in earnest, clogging airwaves and splashing messages across social media. There’s something obviously different this year, as evidenced by how $280 million was spent in the first three months of 2016 — well in advance of any state or local races, according to a new political ad forecast from Borrell Associates.
The report says a complex mix of “earned media” and “purchased media” has thrown a bit of a twist into the forecasts. Call it the Trump Effect. When a candidate with the most delegates has spent the least on advertising and gets twice as much earned media as all of his opponents combined, there’s something unusual at play.
Borrell says: “It will still be a record year for political advertising from the national down to the local level — even more so than we initially thought. We’ve adjusted our forecasts up 3.1%, figuring campaigns will spend $357 million more than we originally anticipated as they scramble to clarify their messages or, more likely, spend money to simplify their opponents’.” It now predicts this year’s political ad revenue will hit a record $11.7 billion.
Nearly half of that increase will go to radio, cable and online media, which, it says, “are quickly becoming viable alternatives to already-clogged TV programming.”
Some of the report’s major points:
- Half of the increase will going to radio and digital.
- Expenditures to state and local media are being adjusted upward.
- Direct mail and telemarketing are likely to grow as the “ground game” of recruiting new voters becomes paramount.
- By 2020, vastly different landscape will have been forged. Broadcast TV becomes far less important, and digital far more.
The new report examines the changes, and details how the rest of year is likely to unfold. An appendix offers detail on forecast political spending by media choice, per-voter spending and spending at the state and local levels.