Which Three Media Types Saw Political Ad Growth?


The Final Analysis from noted media advertising researcher and prognosticator Borrell Associates on political advertising in 2016 has been released, and much has been said about how overall dollars were down from the 2012 election cycle.

Thanks to an unorthodox — and successful — campaign from President-elect Donald Trump, political advertising totaled a record $9.8 billion. That’s up 4.6% from the 2012 election season, when $9.4 billion was invested in political dollars. Yet, it is less than what some media executives expected, leading the leaders of many of the top television broadcast companies to adjust their Q3 2016 and fiscal 2016 earnings downward.

What was largely missed by many trade publications has to do with which media saw gains, not losses, in the 2016 season.

Three media saw increases in political dollars, principal analyst Kip Cassino notes in a 15-page report.

Specifically, digital media got more political ad dollars than anticipated, thanks in large part to social media.

As Borrell reports, digital dollars soared from $1.7 billion in 2012 to $14.4 billion in 2016.

Additionally, 2017 is forecast to see $5.8 billion spent on political ads.

Totaling national, state-wide and local election dollars, 2016 candidates for office increased their investment in cable television campaign. This may be due to the highly targeted capabilities of cable companies and ad-insertion that can be pinpointed down to Congressional districts and local campaigns. Rates may also be more in line with what local candidates have budgeted.

Cable TV political advertising jumped from $9.5 billion in 2012 to $13 billion in 2016.

What was the other media to see dollar gains?

Direct mail. It’s no surprise for some; in areas considered swing states and hot ZIPs, political advertising flooded residential mailboxes for weeks ahead of the November election. This helped Direct Mail nab $3.1 billion in political ad dollars in 2016, from $3 billion in 2012.


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