CAB: Television's 'Political Pulse' Still Strong

Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau study finds TV advertising remains most influential source for political information.
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With more and more political content online, whether on YouTube, Facebook or, most recently, an Internet-connected videogame, campaigns are finding more and more creative ways of spending their advertising money online. But according to the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB), TV advertising remains most influential.

In its newest study, Political Pulse, CAB found that people are most likely to first learn about a political candidate or issue from television, with 80% of respondents citing television as a likely source. The Internet came in second, cited by 42% of respondents, followed by newspaper (37%), word-of-mouth (31%), radio (21%), and direct mail (10%).

Television also holds the most influence on voting decisions about national elections, cited by 71% of respondents, followed by the internet (38%), newspapers (34%), word-of-mouth (33%), radio (16%), and Direct Mail (6%).

That’s good news for CAB, of course, which promotes the effectiveness of television as an advertising platform.

Indeed, this election has demonstrated the influence of television as a dominant source of political content—even when that content migrates to the Web, as it has with Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live and clips from other late-night programs.

However, the study found that this is not the case with local community elections, where there is more content produced for local newspapers than there is for television. As such, CAB’s study shows that in local community elections, people are most likely to first learn about a political candidate or issue from newspapers (53%).

Television comes in third place at 35%, after word-of-mouth (39%). Television also comes in third most likely to influence a voting decision in a local election, at 33%, after newspapers (48%) and word-of-mouth (45%).

The study did not take into account a new venue for advertising: videogames. Of course, when the study was conducted, neither candidate was advertising in videogames—until earlier this week, when Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama began advertising in EA Sports games.

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