Sep 25, 2018 - Economy

Midterm spending to rival presidential election year

Spending on TV political advertising for the midterms will be nearly as high as presidential election spending two years ago, according to estimates from MAGNA.

Adapted from MAGNA; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios
Adapted from MAGNA; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Between the numbers: This year's midterm spend is up so much compared to the 2014 midterms due to more competitive races. The Cook Political Report, which ranks races by competitiveness, cites 95 House races as being "competitive" this year and eight Senate races as "toss-ups" compared to 68 House races being "competitive" at this time in 2014 and nine Senate races as "toss-ups."

The bigger picture: While digital is the future, local television is still king when it comes to political advertising and direct mail is still a very popular way to reach voters.

  • In particular, the growth of addressable TV advertising (ads that can be digitally-targeted by household) has become a powerful tool for midterm election advertisers.
  • According to Vincent Letang, EVP, director of global forecasting for Magna Global and author of the report, political campaigns have been pioneering those new capabilities within the industry, because they are very incentivized to take advantage of as niche targeting as possible.

Be smart: Political advertising is what is keeping local television in the U.S. afloat generally. MAGNA estimates that local TV ad spend will be up 9% this year over last year, but If it weren't for this year's elections, it would be down 4.5%.

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