Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump on local cable advertising by nine to one in four key battleground states but lost in part because her targeted-ad strategy was overcome by his ability to generate earned media, according to Viamedia, an independent cable ad management company.
Republican candidates for state-wide and local races in presidential battleground markets tended to outspend their Democratic rivals, says Viamedia, which represents a substantial number of distributors in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri.
Viamedia says its political advertising revenue was up more than 50% from 2012. Many broadcast station owners have reported that their political ad sales were below forecasts, in part because Trump didn’t buy as much TV advertising as expected.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in geo-targeted TV ad spending from ‘down-ballot’ candidates, PACs and issues advertisers,” said Mark Lieberman, Viamedia president & CEO. “Successful political advertisers during this unprecedented election cycle have embraced the uniqueness of the data and geo-targeting capability of local cable to reach the right voters effectively.”
Among the Republican winners in U.S. Senate races who dominated local cable spending were Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio in Florida, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Richard Burr in North Carolina.
Some Democrats outspent their Republican opponents in local cable and managed to win their races. Those include U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, Michael Bennet in Colorado, Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut, Brian Schatz in Hawaii and Charles Schumer in New York.
In 2016, 47% of all cable TV political ad spending came from issues advertisers—PACs and other organizations; 38% came from down-ballot campaigns, primarily for the Senate and House; 9% came from the presidential campaigns; and 6% reflected spending by PACs on behalf of presidential campaigns.
By comparison, in the same Viamedia markets in 2012, 45% of all cable TV political ad spending came from issues advertisers and PACs—including PAC spending on behalf of the presidential campaigns; 44% came from down-ballot campaigns; and 11% was from the presidential campaigns.