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Political Ad Spend Rises in Local TV, Boosts Ad Economy

17 Oct, 2012 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – As annoying as they are, political ads do have an upside: they’re adding some muscle to an otherwise soft advertising market. Media services giant Magna Global reports total local TV political advertising in second-quarter 2012 surged nearly 30 percent to almost $274 million compared to 2010 political advertising results.

Magna adds that political advertising is expected to hit $2.7 billion for 2012 – a 30-percent gain over the $2.1 billion spent in 2010. That’s a record in political ad spending.

Vincent Letang, Magna’s executive vice president, says that despite the popularity of digital media, local TV remains essential in political marketing because only a “lean-back” medium can effectively reach the low-interest, undecided voters who, by definition, are less likely to seek information from “lean-forward” digital media or engage with digital campaigns. And, of course, local TV can surgically target swing states or counties.

This year, Magna says U.S. total media spend will get to $177 billion, 2.7 percent above 2011. But when political and Olympic spending is omitted, the U.S. total media spend shows just a 0.9-percent hike over 2011.

Letang says that without political ad spending, local television ad revenues would have been up a measly 2 percent this year. “With the political effect, it’ll grow by an average 14 percent. The bonanza will be much bigger in swing states,” Letang says.

Still, in terms of media categories, television is expected to be a winner this year, up 9 percent in revenue. It benefitted from incremental spend by Olympic advertisers and sponsors during the summer, and record political demand crowding the market and generating cost inflation. Television also benefitted from its exposure to some well-oriented categories (automotive, restaurants, finance) in the first part of the year.

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