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Three out of every five advertising dollars placed on cable TV systems this election cycle have been from political action committees (PACs) and issues advertisers. Data also would suggest that “down-ballot” advertising, primarily from candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, has represented more than a quarter of all 2016 political ad spending, while presidential spending has followed distantly.
These findings come from an analysis of cable-advertising transaction data by Viamedia, the largest independent cable TV ad management company. The data was culled from political advertising purchased on more than 60 multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) of various sizes in more than 70 markets, including most of the “battleground” states — Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Nevada — served by Viamedia throughout the country.
According to the findings, 61% of all political ad spending through August came from PACs and issues advertisers, compared to 57% during the 2012 presidential-election cycle; 29% has been from down-ballot campaigns, primarily for the Senate and House, compared to 32% in 2012; and 10% has come from the presidential campaigns, compared to 12% in 2012. While the data reflects Viamedia activity, Viamedia’s political ad sales to date are in line with Borrell Associates’ estimate that political advertising on cable will grow as much as 39% in 2016 compared to 2012.
The findings mark a contrast to recent press reports suggesting 2016 television political advertising may fall short of initial projections, due largely to the relative lack of spending prior to August by the Trump campaign.
“Nearly two-thirds of cable TV political ad spending in a presidential-election year materializes between Labor Day and Election Day,” notes Mark Lieberman, Viamedia president & CEO. “This historical pattern, in combination with the latest data and our own year-to-date business activity, indicate the cable TV industry will have a record year for political advertising. Any paucity in presidential spending by Trump has been more than offset by spending from Clinton, PACs, issues advertisers and down-ballot candidates embracing the targeting capability of cable.”
Other findings from the Viamedia analysis included these patterns in down-ballot ad activity:
- Spending from candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House were evenly split, at 8% apiece of the total;
- Spending from gubernatorial candidates accounted for 3% of the total;
- Spending for mayoral candidates accounted for 1% of the total;
- There has been growth in TV spending from candidates below the mayoral level – such as city council candidates.