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While The Elephant Dollars Come Next Year, $534 Million Is Forecast For Political In 2023.

While the 2024 presidential election cycle is off to a rollicking, record-breaking start, radio sales teams shouldn’t lose sight of the hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in local races taking place this year. With Election Day a little over two months away, BIA Advisory Services is out with a new forecast that pegs local political ad spend at $534 million this year. That’s a 30% increase from $410 million in 2021, and is more than double the $254 million invested in pre-pandemic 2019.

Despite dwindling reach, over the air television will, once again, capture the biggest piece of the pie, at about 43%. Digital channels combined, including mobile, PC/laptop, OTT streaming, digital radio, and numerous other outlets, will come in at a distant second place at 22.8%. Cable TV is forecast to cordon off a 13.0% share of wallet and over the air radio is expected to get just 5.4% of the spend. Direct mail is poised to lose share dramatically, coming in at 9.2%, down from 22.8% in 2019.

Issue-based spending is fueling political advertising this year. The ad-tracking firm Ad Impact says during the first half of the year, $174 million worth of issue-based advertising was bought, representing 38% of the $458 million that was spent on political ads between January and June. That is a 14% increase in issue advertising spending compared to four years ago. The biggest issues addressed in those ads, by far, is healthcare, followed by clean energy, fundraising, gun control, and the economy.

Along with numerous local government elections being held across the country, BIA notes that three states are holding Gubernatorial elections in 2023 along with other state executive positions: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. “However, even with increased spending, these statewide elections aren’t enough to boost any of their local TV markets to the Top 5 in 2023,” BIA says in a blog post.

The markets in line for the most local political ad spend in 2023 happen to be the two biggest: Los Angeles and New York. Third place is a bit of a head-scratcher: Tucson, AZ (market No. 65). Rounding out the top 5 are Detroit (No. 14) and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (No. 10).

In four of these five markets, over the air TV is forecast to get the biggest share of wallet, just as it is nationwide. In Tucson, for example, TV OTA is forecasted to get a whopping sixty-two cents out of every dollar spent on political advertising in the market in 2023. But it’s a different story in New York City where TV OTA accounts for 28% of local political ad spend. That’s only a few percentage points above digital media’s share of the political ad pie.

More political ad spend data can be found in the recently published Local Market Political Ad Spend Report 2023-2024, which details political local ad spend in all 210 TV markets for key media in 2023 and 2024.

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