Tracey: Stations Maintained Political Ad Share

The head of Kantar’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, Evan Tracey, says that in the just-completed election season, TV stations were still the No. 1 ad medium at $2.4 billion. Any money that moved from broadcasting to other media was solely because broadcasting could not meet all the demand, he said.

Political broadcasting maven Evan Tracey disagrees with the notion that TV stations’ role as the chief outlet for political advertising is shrinking.

TV stations captured 80% of the nearly $3 billion spent in campaigning and issue advertising this year, he said in a conference call last week organized by Wells Fargo Securities for its clients. (A transcript of the call was released on Friday.)

But to the extent money moved from broadcasting to other media was solely because broadcasting could not meet all the demand, said Tracey, who is president of Kantar’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.

The market was “driven by a supply-and-demand equation where you actually probably had more money than there was broadcast TV to buy.”

According to Tracey, electronic mass media attracted between $2.7 billion and $2.8 billion in political spending. If outdoor and direct mail are added in, the total spending swells to nearly $3 billion, a record year.

Of that, TV stations accounted for $2.4 billion.

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When the stations spots “started to get sold out or the pricing was going up too high to keep up [with] the demand … what happened is you started having a lot of this money that was looking for a new home.

“And that new home became everything from radio to Internet, which saw itself become a bigger part of the end game, but not at the expense of broadcast or cable television.”

Tracey said it was too early to forecast political spending in 2011.

But he said places to watch are conservative states with Democratic Senators. The states will get issue advertising trying to influence votes on healthcare rollback and taxation and the senators will be targeted by Republicans in their drive to take control of the Senate in 2012.

Looking even further ahead, Tracy said Republican fundraising on the next presidential race may be hampered by the lack of a clear frontrunner. “It’s going to be tied up in the various power struggles between the 10 or 14 Republicans that throw their hat into the ring.”

“On the Democrat side, obviously you’ve got a wounded administration that’s going to have to do everything they can do to get their fundraising on track to be ready to hit the ground. They’ve got to obviously look out on their left flank for a potential primary challenger there.”


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