Election TV ad spend tops half-billion; opportunity knocks


Pile of MoneyPresident Obama, Mitt Romney, and their Super PACs have dumped more than half a billion dollars on television advertising this cycle, putting the two sides on pace to easily eclipse the $1 billion mark before Election Day, according to The National Journal.

Most of that money so far has gone to a barrage of attack ads, depicting Obama as willfully making the economy worse and Romney as the misanthropic businessman out to line his own pocket and send jobs overseas.

Obama’s campaign has spent the most, more than $225 million on advertising in key battleground states. Romney’s campaign spent $68 million spent so far, a trio of outside organizations–American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS, and Americans for Prosperity–have combined to purchase another $145 million in television spots. All told, Romney and his allies have now outspent Obama and his allies by nearly $20 million.

The week of 8/13 Romney and Republican outside groups outspent Obama and Democrats by a close to 3-1 margin. Republicans spent $27.1 million, while Democrats put only $10.6 million into television spots. Republicans are spending twice as much as Obama’s team in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia; three times as much in North Carolina; and almost eight times as much in Pennsylvania, where Obama has curtailed his television spending and is focusing on radio spots in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, said the story.

Obama’s campaign is spending $9.45 million on ads the same week, less than the’ve spent in two previous weeks. Romney’s campaign, which has slowly ramped up spending as his coffers recover from a drawn-out, expensive primary, is doling out $7.8 million. And Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC, is spending more than $10 million on advertising this week alone.

Underscoring Democrats’ money problems, even the Republican National Committee–which was mired in more than $20 million in debt just last year–is spending more this week than Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC. The RNC has spent $2 million on advertising in eight states, while Priorities spent almost $1.2 million across five states between 8/14 and 8/20.

Republicans have outspent Democrats in all but three swing states. Republican groups hold the largest advantages in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, three reliably Democratic states Republicans are trying to put into play. Democrats, meanwhile, have spending advantages in three critical swing states that are crucial to Romney’s path to 270 electoral votes–Colorado, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

Voters in Ohio, where Democrats have spent $57.3 million compared with $46.1 million from Republicans, have seen more than $103 million in paid advertising. Florida has seen a nearly identical amount of advertising, though Republicans have outspent Democrats by a $53.7 million to $49.6 million margin in that state.

Virginia comes in third on the spending charts, with more than $75 million dished out in the commonwealth so far. Voters in North Carolina have seen $56 million in TV ads, while the two sides have spent a combined $40 million in both Colorado and Iowa.

The two sides are spending at least a combined $2 million in the Denver, Tampa, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C. markets–saturation-level spending that virtually guarantees local businesses won’t be able to put their own ads on television. The two sides are spending at least $1.5 million combined in the Orlando, Las Vegas, and Charlotte markets, and more than $1 million targeting voters in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.

See The National Journal story here

RBR-TVBR observation: As Pivotal Research just reported, Local TV is getting the lion’s share of political ad spend this year. National TV was weaker than prior expectations. With negative growth in network TV, and diminished growth in cable, the total sector grew by only 2% in Q2. Local TV (including local broadcasting and cable) grew by nearly 9.8% vs. expectations of +7.8%.  Political is likely to have had stronger impact than originally forecast, especially on local broadcasting: “Overall, our prior forecasts now appear too conservative, with industry contacts confirming the general nature of expectations implied by local broadcasters with respect to political advertising. We now expect local TV advertising to grow by 15% in 2012 vs. 2011, and up 8% vs. 2010.”

The good news for radio and other media is that, as the National Journal noted, Local TV is so saturated with political ads in some markets that local businesses won’t be able to put their own ads on television. Maybe that fruit is ripe for the picking! If your station and SM are good, they’ll have a list of who regularly spends on local TV and local spot cable and approach these businesses right about now.