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The New Realities of Political Advertising on Television

May 22, 2014

Over the past few years, political ad spending has exploded. From local to presidential, political campaigns have long used television to get their message out. The 2012 presidential election saw the two major candidates and their supporters spend nearly a billion dollars on television advertising, after Rick Santorum dropped out of the Republican primaries on April 11, 2012.

However, a new study released by Democratic strategist Julie Hootkin (Global Strategy Group) and Republican strategist Robert Blizzard (Public Opinion Strategies) concluded that television advertising is not as effective as in the past. Based on their study, they assert that television advertising is problematic in reaching many important segments of the voting population.

Hootkin and Blizzard “concluded that the country has reached ‘a tipping point’ in the competition for viewers between traditional live television and other forms of viewing content.” Between streaming services such as Netflix and delayed viewing on DVRs, the impact of television advertising has been greatly diminished.

If the well-funded, well-researched political parties and PACs react to these new realities, what about more traditional advertisers? And, more importantly, how can radio take advantage?

Radio listening is primarily done in real time. Listeners don’t have the opportunity to skip over ads. This is one of the reasons that radio is ideal for political advertising. In addition, radio’s unique segmentation ability allows political parties to tailor their message to different portions of the population. Sending the right message to the right portion of the population in real time is a huge advantage that radio has over television.

As the midterm elections approach, radio needs to tell its story to the political world: we can deliver your message to the voters.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner

The Washington Post, “Mad Money: TV ads in the 2012 presidential campaign”
The Washington Post, “As viewing habits change, political campaigns must change their habits, as well”