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Pace Of Political Ad Spending Remains Twice What Was Invested In 2020.

It seems no one told the political ad buyers that 2023 is what the campaign consultants call an off-year cycle. The ad-tracking firm AdImpact says political ad spending continues at a pace that is twice that of the political calendar four years ago. It reports $453.24 million has been spent so far during the 2024 election cycle. That is more than double the $221.73 spent up until this point on the calendar during the 2020 cycle.

“It does seem to me right now that 2024 will be a strong year. I don't know if it'd be as strong as 2020. I think it's still to be determined,” said Michael Leszega, Director of U.S. Market Intelligence at Magna. In an interview with Inside Radio, he said that because Republicans are not being dissuaded from running by former President Trump’s lead in the early polling, that it is likely to lead to more ad spending during the GOP primary.

“We expect very strong political spending across all media,” Leszega said. Magna is currently projecting total political spending will rise $200 million during the 2024 cycle. “I think that’s also a function of pricing,” he explained, noting that inflation has driven up media costs since the last time the U.S. elected a president. “I suspect that given the continued rise, that all channels will benefit. It’s not just going to be one channel, because there's only so much inventory that local TV can handle. At some point, every single commercial is going to be a political commercial, and so dollars will flow everywhere.”

While Magna’s outlook is one of more dollars flowing into all media channels, Leszega said that it remains a challenge to get candidate teams to spend on audio.

“We noticed only a small amount of dollars go into political spending in radio. Why? I don't know; [political] seems to be more of a visual medium,” he said. “We do not allocate a lot of money to political spending in radio – which is interesting to me, because radio is a local platform, first and foremost.”

Radio may have to fight for every dollar it gets, but there is evidence that the industry’s effort to pull in more political dollars is scoring some victories. The Hispanic-targeted Nuestro PAC has announced it plans to spend $37 million to support the reelection of President Biden. It has announced plans to use radio to target listeners in states including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Nuestro PAC, which is the largest independent Latino-focused super PAC in the U.S., says it aims to take on the “challenges” that Democrats have faced in recent years with young and working-class Hispanics. In addition to bilingual radio ads, Nuestro PAC also plans to spend money on direct mail and online ads.

The group says it “aims to correct every mistake” that was made in 2020 when Latino support wavered, costing Democrats several key races – especially in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. It says part of the fix is to start reaching out to Hispanics earlier than in the past.

While Nuestro PAC has television as its top destination, it is followed by broadcast radio and then digital radio.

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