Cable Grows Share of Political Spend

Political ad spend up 4.6% from 2012

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2016 was a record year for political ad spending, according to ad trackers at Borrell Associates, up 4.6% from the 2012 presidential election to $9.8 billion. But money shifted 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 noted the figure represented a 44.7% share, down from 57.9% in ’12, a $1-billion decline when many were predicting a $1B increase.

Part of that was Donald Trump’s heavy reliance on earned and digital media, but it was also because of the general shift to more targeted media, said the analysts. Cable, digital and direct mail gained a total $1.7 billion over 2012. Cable jumped from $891.78 million (9.5% of the total pie) to $1,355.28 billion (13.8%), Borrell noted. Online and digital exploded from $159.21 million in ‘12 to 1.4 billion.

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When the dust settled on Trump’s improbable victory, what remained was “a political advertising landscape that has been permanently altered,” said the analysts. “In 2016 marketers learned that a candidate doesn’t have to match or outspend an opponent in TV commercials—or even in overall funds raised—to win an election.”