Political Spending Primed To Edge Out Other Advertisers, Study Says

NEW YORK — Political parties, independent groups and candidates in this year’s mid-term elections are breaking all records for political ad spending, according to a study by Initiative Media North America. Spending on television is poised to exceed the record amount shelled out in the 2000 presidential election year — $672 million — and could hit $1 billion by Election Day on Nov. 5th, the report says.

So far, Initiative’s study found that television ad spending has already topped $678 million, and traditionally spending is heaviest the last three weeks of a pre-election period. The media shop’s analysis also pointed out that broadcast inventory is tight or sold-out in every one of the top 25 U.S. markets. Naturally, that demand for airtime is driving up prices in media markets where saturation for political ads is the heaviest.

“It is essential for non-political advertisers to plan well ahead if they cannot afford to be flexible at this time of year,” said Kathy Crawford, executive vice president, director, local broadcast at Initiative Media. “It’s especially crucial for marketers that have critical windows such as new product launches, or seasonal promotions concurrent with an election. To ensure that our non-political clients get the coveted airtime during elections, we pre-plan at least a year before the election and strategically review and buy in all key markets. And ‘clout’ certainly makes a difference when negotiating for pricing of non-political ads during election periods.”

Spending for gubernatorial races –36 governors’ races will produce at least 21 new governors, the study noted — has increased dramatically in the last few years as wealthy self-financed candidates have set records on advertising spending. According to the study, 2002 spending is expected to hit $100 million in California, New York and Texas.