Broadcasters Suffer as Less is Spent on Presidential Campaign Ads

Hillary-Trump

Bloomberg politics reports that Political advertising for the 2016 U.S. presidential election is off 60 percent from the 2012 campaign.

Since Ted Cruz suspended his presidential campaign in April, conceding the Republican nomination to Donald Trump, only $146 million has been spent in the presidential race, compared with $373 million over the same period in 2012. That includes the $50 million Hillary Clinton’s campaign spent on broadcast television advertising in 10 battleground states since mid-June.

Spending is down in part because Trump uses media interviews and tweets to get his message out. Also, there has been less spending by outside Republican groups. In addition, the Democrats’ primary between Hillary and Bernie Sanders lasted into the summer. That delayed the start of the general election advertising in battleground states — where the serious money is usually spent.

That has put the hurt on local TV broadcasters that were counting on a windfall from much more presidential campaign advertising. Some projections, predicted spending on TV ads in the 2016 election would be total about $4.4 billion, up from $3.8 billion in 2012.

The Donald is expected to run its first TV ads in the coming days. Trump has purchased $4 million of broadcast and cable television advertising in the four battlegrounds of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That could help turn things around for broadcasters. But it is unlikely to make up for months of lower TV ad spending.

The downturn in political TV ads begs the question whether political TV ads still work. Some say if they did, the GOP nominee would be Jeb Bush. Campaigns may be moving away from TV ads as they focus more on online advertising, which is cheaper and can better target specific voter demographics. But for now television remains the easiest way to reach undecided voters and those who don’t seek out political information on their own.