Kantar On Political Dollars: $8.4B In Spending To Be Seen

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The 2022 midterm elections have long been seen as a political ad dollar bonanza for broadcast media. Indeed, it’s shaping up to be one of the biggest of all time, with respect to advertising budgets and spending.


Every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is up for an election. At the same time, some 40 governor’s races are underway, while no less than 35 U.S. Senate seats are at play.

As such, billions are forecast to go toward political advertising. But, how much will trickle down to broadcast media?

Kantar CMAG shared with Forbes contributor Brad Agate this week that it forecasts $8.4 billion in political ad dollars this year.

That’s a jump from $5.4 billion in the 2018 midterm elections. But, the bigger conclusion is that the $8.4 billion Kantar now estimates rivals the $9 billion spent during the entire 2020 election and is up from an original projection of $7.8 billion, Agate notes.

He chatted with CMAG Vice President Steve Passwaiter about the 2022 midterm data he’s gathered. Passwaiter comments, “The results to date are unmistakably up.”

Alabama was “a great example,” he adds, as the Republican primary to replace the retiring Richard Shelby piled up over $30 million in spending. “That’s not a state with huge media markets, so that $30 million represents a ton of ads,” Passwaiter shares. “That energy transferred into down ballot races, too.”

Case in point: the race to become Mayor of Los Angeles, Calif. Primary ad spending ended up surpassing $30 million. Rick Caruso ended up spending $24 million of that total by himself. The other winning candidate, Karen Bass, spent just over $1 million by comparison.

Still, one must ask if radio, in particular, is benefiting from the burst in electoral ad dollar activity. Says Passwaiter, “Broadcast TV will remain the king of the hill in these midterms with over $4 billion in projected spending.”

The growth story in 2022, he believes, “really comes with the emergence of ad supported streaming platforms. Projections for this form of media are likely to be close to or equal to cable TV’s totals this year. There’s a lot of belief being shown in this platform by political buyers. It’s got targeting capabilities and a growing audience that’s helping buyers offset the losses in viewers available on linear TV. It also has a generally different audience made up of younger viewers.”

Passwaiter also observes that social media platforms have soured in recent quarters but still remain an important piece of the pie in campaigns. “Despite the grumbling, they’ve become a permanent part of the advertising mix even if some of these social media players don’t have all the usefulness they once had for campaigns,” he says.

Alas, specific dollar projections for Radio were not mentioned in Agate’s article for Forbes. Kantar data takes into account spending across broadcast TV, cable TV, OTT, radio, Spanish-language local TV, Facebook, and Google.

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