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February 2, 2016

How Political Advertising Has Changed In 2016

It is well known that political advertising can be a significant factor for television advertising during election years.

Political campaigns take up a significant portion of national and local television stations inventory in an attempt to influence voters to vote for a particular candidate. TV advertising has proven to be the most powerful advertising influencer in the political process and for good reason.  TV is consumed by a large audience, most commonly by older people, who historically are more likely to vote. However, TV viewing habits have changed dramatically over the past several years, particularly among younger individuals. As a result of this, numerous campaigns are looking to other advertising opportunities so that they can better reach the younger population. One way campaigns are doing this is by investing more advertising dollars in digital media, specifically online media. Digital platforms like Google, Facebook and YouTube will see a substantial percentage of these dollars. Social media is expected to account for about half of all online political spending in 2016. For example, Bernie Sanders is using a 10 day Snapchat campaign to target younger voters. The Snapchat geofilter asks, “Are you ready to feel the Bern?”

The 2012 presidential election set records for money spent on TV advertisements and it appears political spending for 2016 will follow the trends of past elections and increase yet again. According to Borell Associates, political advertising will reach a record $11.4 billion, up 20 % from the 2012 election. Digital spending will exceed $1.1 billion, up 700% from the last election. The shift from traditional media to digital media is evident all around us. Hillary Clinton, for example, used twitter to announce her presidential bid for 2016 with a link to a YouTube video. This is something that would have been announced on television or radio in years prior. It is apparent that as time goes on and technology continues to advance, digital, and online media will see an increase of spend reallocated to these areas in political advertising.

The question about political TV advertisements for a while has been and remains to be how effective are the advertisements in getting the message across to viewers. Some people would argue that political advertisements are not as effective as they once were simply because people have the option to fast forward past ads on their DVR or on-demand services. One way politicians have been able to increase the effectiveness of their ads is by reaching the right audience.  This is done by using targeted cable advertising which allows politicians to target individuals by certain demographics like age, gender, geography, and race. Campaign parties have to take this into consideration when they are attempting to win voters over. A 2012 study conducted by Michael Franz and Travis Ridout from Washington State University determined that advertising had meaningful effects on the 2012 election, but it also found that there needs to be a lot of ads in order to influence voters. Even if advertisements are effective, they might affect the small percentage of people in the middle who are undecided. This is because most Americans will vote as they typically do with the parities they belong to.