Who Is Buying Political Ads on Cable? - eMarketer
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Who Is Buying Political Ads on Cable?

Just 10% of cable TV political ad spending is coming from presidential candidates

September 23, 2016

More than 60% of US cable TV political ad spending is coming from political action committees (PACs) and issues advertisers, according to data from Viamedia on ads served on its platform between January and August 2016.

US Cable TV Political Ad Spending Share, by Advertiser Type, Jan-Aug 2016 (% of total)

Twice as much political ad spending is coming from PACs and issues advertisers than from down-ballot campaigns, which mostly includes spending by candidates for the US House of Representatives and Senate. And more than six times as much spending is coming from PACs and issues advertisers than from presidential campaigns.

TV is still the dominant destination for political ad spend, and research from Nomura Securities indicates that cable TV, which makes up the second-largest share, is estimated to see $1.10 billion this year, or 10.8% of total US political ad spend.

Generally, internet users learn most about politics from TV. Indeed, a survey from YuMe revealed that 69% of US internet users find TV news to be the most effective political marketing channel. And while TV may be a significant channel for candidates to advertise on, not everyone is doing so.

US Political Ad Spending, by Format, 2008-2016 (billions and % of total)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign had spent $0 on television advertising as of early August, while the campaign of his main opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, had spent roughly $52 million.

TV ads endorsing Trump have run, however, they are coming from super PACs supporting the Republican nominee, rather than from the campaign itself. According to data from Advertising Age and Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, Trump, pro-Trump PACs and advocacy groups spent a total of $30 million on presidential campaign ads for TV and radio, $8.3 million of which was spent on cable TV ads. To compare, Clinton, pro-Clinton PACs and advocacy groups have spent $237.4 million in total on US presidential campaign ads for radio and TV, $46.3 million of which was spent on cable TV ads.

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