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Midterm Elections Bring Big Spending

Doesn’t it seem that every other TV commercial these days is for a political candidate? Based on what they are spending this year in the midterm elections, that just might be the case.

With 37 races apiece at the U.S. senate and state governor levels, as well as all 435 House seats up for grabs, close to $3 billion will be spent on advertising for these elections. That’s roughly 20 percent more than in 2008.

Broadcast TV is expected to see 70 percent of that figure, with the remaining 30 percent split among all other media, including cable TV, radio, outdoor, internet and direct mail. Since the majority of political ad dollars are spent in the last 60 days before an election, we are in the thick of it right now!

There are many factors driving this high spending:

  • More competitive races
  • More open Senate and Governor seats than usual
  • “Movement” ads, such as those fueled by the rapid ascension of the Tea Party
  • Policy and issue-related ads, such as healthcare and education

What does that mean for advertisers? In the final weeks before the election, political advertising buys up inventory and tends to raise prices for everyone else: a typical supply and demand equation.

“All candidates are eligible for the ‘lowest unit rate’ for broadcast ads, which can amount to a 30-percent discount to normal rates,” said Dennis Wharton, Executive Vice President with the National Association of Broadcasters. He also notes that broadcasters are legally required to provide air time to candidates. As a result, not only is air time cheaper for political ads, but they are bumping other advertisers as well!

For our clients that are currently in the market, we are monitoring their buys and speaking to the media representatives to ensure our buys are clearing as planned.

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