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Buckle up, America, if the primaries are any indication of political spending, it’s going to be a long summer-sliding-into-fall. Not to mention, the ensuing conventions and election in November!

In our local market, many people expressed some surprise at the volume of dollars that came in at the last minute. After all, Missouri hasn’t been considered a swing state for the past eight years, and even national pundits have dismissed the state’s bellwether status in recent elections. So, what happened?

Well, the Sanders-Clinton face-off heated up, as the chase for delegates continues, and then, mere days before the election, a ton of anti-Trump PAC money showed up. (Local advertisers felt the hit, too – political advertising can command top dollar, and therefore, shove existing advertisers out of their long-negotiated spots. So the weeks after the primary were filled with makegoods and increased tightness on inventory.) Because even in this Internet Age, where you can find a Tweet or article on a daily basis extolling the death of television, TV still remains the biggest battleground on which the political candidates – and their PAC supporters or detractors – will wage war for the seats of power in our government.


Up for grabs are:

    • The U.S. Presidency
    • 34 U.S. Senate seats
    • 12 governorships
    • All 435 U.S. House seats

Projected spending:

    • Broadcast television alone is near $6 billion.
    • Cable and Digital will reach approximately $1 billion
    • Newspaper and Radio around $850 million each.
      (Source: Borrell Associates/Statista, September 2015)

Ultimately, another $3.1 billion will be spent locally, taking the election spending to nearly $10 billion dollars – approximately the entire GDP of Madagascar, if you want some cocktail-party trivia!

How do local advertisers counteract the inevitable political squeeze? There are some ways to get around the political demands without paying political dollars. For example, sponsorships and other packages, placed early in the year at an agreed-to rate can create some political shelter for advertisers. Moving dollars to the other media venues with less pressure also can help – cable, for instance, has enormous inventory and a fraction of the political spending that broadcast has. Depending on your campaign objectives and target audience, you can find good solutions for your media budgets in radio, outdoor and digital as well.

So plan ahead and hold on. We have a long six months left of this political season.

InQuest Marketing

Author InQuest Marketing

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