Cable Grows Share of Political Ad Spend

WASHINGTON — Last year was a record one for political ad spending, according to ad trackers at Borrell Associates — up 4.6% from the 2012 presidential election to $9.8 billion, and the gift just keeps on giving.

But money is shifting toward more targeted ads, with cable in on the new bounty.

Broadcast TV remained the big dog at $4.4 billion, more than three times any other outlet. Borrell pointed out that represented a 44.7% share, down from 57.9% in 2012, a $1 billion decline when many were predicting a $1 billion increase.

Part of that was President-elect Donald Trump’s heavy reliance on earned media and digital media, but it was also because of the general shift to more targeted media, the analysts said. Cable, digital and direct mail gained a total of $1.7 billion over 2012.

Cable jumped from $891.78 million in 2012 (9.5% of the total pie) to $1,355.28 million (13.8%), Borrell pointed out in a new report released last week.

Online and digital exploded from $159.21 million in 2012 to $1,415.38 million in 2016.

And the end of the election does not necessarily mean the end of the spending.

Allied Progress last week launched six-figure ad cable and broadcast ad buys asking senators in Arizona and Nevada to reject Trump’s Treasury Secretary nominee, Steve Mnuchin. They are the first major paid ad efforts targeting the Trump cabinet picks.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.