Friday, October 29, 2010

TV Still Favored Medium for Political Ad Spending

This is something I taught students in 2008, and it's still true this year, despite rapidly evolving technology.


The Internet revolutionized political fundraising, but when it comes to spending those dollars, media strategists are voting old school.

Candidates and supporters are caught up in a frenetic advertising blitz, on pace to drop a record $3 billion, according to analysts who monitor spending. Most of the money is going to an old-media workhorse: local TV stations.

Two years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama successfully tapped the Internet to raise money and mobilize millions of voters. Politicians around the country, including California gubernatorial hopefuls Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, have jumped on the social media bandwagon, including Facebook and Twitter. But as the campaign season heated up, analysts said, candidates scaled back on Internet ad buys in favor of the tried and true.

How tried and true? Even the 235-year-old U.S. Postal Service is a conduit for more paid advertising — by 13 to 1 — than its digital descendant.

For California TV stations, particularly those in Los Angeles, the midterm election has led to a gold-rush mentality. One campaign organizer said the cost of a 30-second TV spot has been soaring in the final days before Tuesday's election. A spot that went for $2,000 two years ago is going for $5,000 today.

Analysts who track political spending predict that TV stations nationwide will rake in two-thirds of the campaign dollars this year — about $2 billion. Commercial radio, another old-media staple, is expected to collect $250 million. At least $650 million will be spent on direct mail campaigns, those glossy fliers now filling mailboxes.

Internet sites should fetch about $50 million, less than 2% of the total.

Advertising veterans say the stakes are too high to experiment with a medium that, despite its ability to monitor the browsing habits of consumers, might not be effective.

"Television delivers a mass audience in a short amount of time and you don't have that same assurance with the Internet," said Wayne Johnson, president of Wayne Johnson Agency in Sacramento, which advises Republican candidates. "We have been waiting for that to change, but there are legitimate reasons why people are sticking with TV ads."
More at the link.

And that's the NRCC's TV spot hammering Ben Chandler of Kentucky's 6th Congressional District. He's in a
tough reelection campaign.

More of those at
the link. I love political advertising.


Bruce Hall said...

Given the limited number of television/radio channels versus the millions of potential Internet addresses [URLs], it is understandable that money goes to a "manageable" medium.

Popup ads... ad blockers.

Where would ad money go on the Internet? Drudge? CNN? Limbaugh? Some URLs may be seen as entertainment and neutral, but their draw is minuscule versus television. The beauty of TV is that, as a mass entertainment medium, the views are of all political persuasions and potential "converts."