Polls show that most Americans aren’t that interested in this year’s midterm elections, but that doesn’t matter to political advertisers who are spending more money this midterm than was spent four years ago, according to Viamedia, an independent cable advertising firm.
TV watchers in Colorado Springs have it the worst. According to the statistics, a whopping 80 percent of ads on cable television in the Colorado town were political on October 24th, the high-water mark for ads so far in that market this year. That’s four out of every five ads!
2014 is not just another midterm election – certainly not from an advertising perspective
Of course Colorado is home to two contentious races: the Senate race between Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, and the gubernatorial race between Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Bob Beauprez.
The television landscape in Little Rock, Arkansas shows a similar story, where 70 percent of cable advertising just one week from Election Day were political.
Viamedia found that Little Rock and Colorado Springs are not unique. The amount of political advertising in 2014 has far outpaced political advertising in 2010, the last nonpresidential election, with one out of every three dollars of Viamedia’s revenue coming from political advertising for the month of October – through the 24th. That’s a 132 percent increase from 2010.
A blog on Viamedia’s website says “2014 is not just another midterm election – certainly not from an advertising perspective.”
The incease in political advertising is no random phenomenon.
The Supreme Court unleashed a flood of political dollars in 2010 with its decision in Citizens United that allowed corporations to spend a lot more in political campaigns. Citizens United also opened the door to the enormous amount of spending by super PACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money.
Mark Lieberman, President and CEO of Viamedia TV, also attributed the increase to the ability of technology to be able to target viewers.
“You can do a much better job targeting those particular programs and networks” that are watched by the targeted voters, Lieberman said, giving more incentive for campaigns and politically affiliated groups to spend money on television.
Which viewers are seeing the most political ads? On Fox News Channel. The conservative news network has the highest percentage of political ads than any other cable network, with one in five of its ads political.
Sports fans, you aren’t immune from seeing political ads, because after Fox, ESPN shows the second most political ads.
“You really want to find the swing voters,” Lieberman said. “The media buyers found certain programs on ESPN was where a lot of these swing voters were watching television.”