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Prices Are Up For Political TV Ads. That’s A Good Sign For Radio.

This year is shaping up to be a “historically expensive” election, according to AdImpact. The political ad tracking firm says candidates have already placed $540.9 million in future ad reservations. And as inventory on their first-choice television fills up, and ad prices rise, it will help make other media including radio look a lot more attractive to campaign ad buyers.

AdImpact’s analysis shows U.S. Senate races have had the most in pre-booked spending so far. With control of the chamber in the balance, it says $381.6 million has been allocated so far across 11 states. The most is in Ohio, where incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is facing Republican businessman Bernie Moreno. AdImpact says $139.4 million has already been reserved for ads in that race.

Montana is a runner up, with $111.5 million of ad time already reserved as Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is after a fourth term as he faces Republican businessman Tim Sheehy. And $42.5 million of ad time has been reserved in Pennsylvania, where incumbent Bob Casey (D-PA) is looking to hold off a GOP challenger selected later this month when the state holds its primary election.

Democrats are playing defense in many of the competitive races, and that has led the Democratic group WinSenate to reserve $225.7 million in six states, led by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, according to AdImpact. On the right, AdImpact says the Republican groups American Crossroads and Senate Leadership Fund have together reserved $121.1 million, with Montana and Ohio its biggest targets right now.

It is a much different story in the presidential race. The Republicans have yet to book any advance airtime for former President Donald Trump. The job’s current holder, President Joe Biden, has also not booked any time directly but the Democratic group Future Forward PAC has. AdImpact says it has reserved $130 million on ads that will run late-summer through Election Day.

The 2024 election cycle’s total ad spending remains slightly behind what was spent four years ago when there was a more competitive presidential primary race. AdImpact says a combined $2.08 billion has been spent across all races through March 29. That is $10 million less than what was spent at this point in 2020.

The firm says during the past two weeks it tracked $76.1 million in political ads. That included $5 million in spending from the Biden campaign. The most spent was in Washington ($4.8 million), Chicago ($4.2 million), and Indianapolis ($3.4 million). Its spending data also points to the Maryland U.S. Senate race, which is also showing signs it may become competitive in the coming months.

AdImpact projects a record $10.2 billion will be spent during the 2023-2024 election cycle across all media, including radio. The forecast, if accurate, would mean political ad spending will grow 13% from the record $9.02 billion that was allocated during the last presidential election cycle four years ago. AdImpact forecasts radio will get $116 million from House and Senate contests with another $84 million from the presidential race.

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