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The Political Ad Spigot Isn’t Completely Dry, Thanks To Groups Lobbying On The Radio.

The lack of any federal elections means this year’s political advertising revenue is certain to fall well below what flowed into radio during 2022. But that does not mean stations will be without any political dollars. The ad tracking firm AdImpact says it picked up $76 million that was spent across all media on issue-related advertising during the first quarter. That included ads on issues such as healthcare, clean energy, the economy, and gun control.

During the first three months of the year, AdImpact calculates radio received $3 million in issue-related ads. Cable TV got the most, taking in $26 million or $4 million more than what broadcast television received. Digital ad spending followed at $21 million, with another $4 million put into connected TV ads.

During an off-year, the best place to be for issue-related ads is Washington, DC. The market has seen the most issue spending so far in 2023. AdImpact says $15.4 million – or 37% of the total – has been spent there to reach members of Congress, their staff, and other federal policymakers. The New York market was the second-largest recipient, but its $4.5 million in issue ads was roughly only one third of what Washington got.

The biggest issue ad spending totals show where the political battles are likely to be in the coming months. Better Medicare Alliance spent $12.8 million during the first quarter, more than any other organization. Its ads urge Congress not to cut Medicare Advantage. Four in ten of its dollars went into the Washington market during the first quarter, but it also aired ads in other cities with large Black and Hispanic populations, including Phoenix, Las Vegas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Atlanta.

The group American Opportunity was the second-largest source of issue ads during Q1. AdImpact says the group spent $2.9 million across New York markets on ads touting Governor Hochul’s state budget.

American Petroleum Institute ranked third with $2.6 million on ads highlighting advancements its members have made to make oil and natural gas more environmentally friendly. Accountable Florida ranked No. 4 as it spent $2.4 million on ads in that state urging Floridians to convince their state representative to vote against a bill that makes it harder for people to sue companies. And the PBM Accountability Project spent $2.3 million urging Congress to hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable. AdImpact says their ads ran in Washington, New York and Philadelphia, as well as in smaller cities such as Cleveland; Portland, OR; Cedar Rapids, IA; and in some rural markets.

The first quarter analysis also shows that some advocacy groups looked to grab some attention by placing ads during the Super Bowl in February. AdImpact says the computer-safety group The Dawn Project spent $365,000 on a Super Bowl spot that aired in the Washington and Austin markets during the game. Better Medicare Alliance spent $200,000 on a Super Bowl ad in Washington. And Power to the Patients spent $210,000 on a 60-second ad that also aired in DC.

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