2020 Elections Slated To Generate $6.58 Billion In Local Ad Spending

Political campaigns are expected to generate $6.58 billion in local advertising spending this year. This estimate from BIA Advisory Services assigns the lion’s share of political ad dollars to over-the-air television, $3.07 billion. Cable television is forecast to receive $915.4 million, while digital is set to capture $1.42 billion this year.

Nationally, BIA expects political spending per person to average $18.64, with top 10 television markets averaging $18.81. However, there is a great deal of discrepancy within these 10 markets—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at No. 4, is forecast to receive political ad spending of $31.39 per person, while New York, New York, the largest market by population and the second-largest by total advertising spend, is forecast to receive political spending of $10.73 per person.

The highest per capita spending will be in battleground states. Markets in Maine, Nevada, and Arizona will receive the highest spending per capita, with over $47 in spending per person. In Maine, with a Senate race expected to be hotly contested, Portland-Auburn and Bangor, are at the top of the list with the highest spend per pop, both nearing $50 per capita with $49.47 and $48.64 respectively. Nevada is expected to a wildcard this election, with political advertising in Reno forecast to reach $48.60 per person, while in Las Vegas, political spending per person is $47.47. A special election to fill the seat of the late Arizona Senator John McCain is expected to drive per-person spending in Phoenix to $48.31.

“In some of the smaller markets, one thing to keep an eye on is how the huge volume of political advertising could crowd out other local advertisers during primary and general election seasons. That may have an impact on advertisers and media companies, and we’ll certainly factor that into our forecasting as we go through the fall,” says Dr. Mark Fratrik, BIA’s chief economist.

BIA notes that while other traditional media like radio and newspaper won’t see as much of a direct boost from political as OTA TV and cable, sellers should approach TV and cable advertisers displaced by political ads to drive them to their platforms.

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