Political Advertising Approaching November Midterms

Elections always promise to be interesting, and this year is no exception. As races continue to heat up across the country, the industry has its eye on political advertising. “The only thing predictable about any political advertising is its unpredictably. Broadly, the 2018s are shaping up for us in our media like 2014 midterms. It’s still based on which races end up catching fire and catching the attention,” Dan Templin, Mediacom’s svp of business solutions, told Cablefax .

Though Templin said this year’s cycle is similar to the previous midterms, others disagree. “I think in ’18 there are similarities up to a certain point, but ’18 I think has gotten a lot of press because of the potential Blue Wave,” said Tim Kay, vp of political strategy for NCC, which sells spots across the MVPD universe. “What we’ve seen through this primary season is its been regionalized, there’s different issues in different places around the country. I think you’re seeing these localized messages.

The question that I have is are we going to see more of a national message once that election window opens?” Dan Sinagoga, vp of political advertising for Comcast Spotlight, estimates that the cable industry is on track for approximately $800mln in political advertising sales, with cable set to take a mid-30% share of political advertising dollars. “For political advertising, while the news networks, such as Fox [News], MSNBC and CNN, are in high demand in the local markets, we also see demand for female-skewed networks such as HGTV and Bravo,” Sinagoga said.

Trends show that during midterms, the focus tends to be on local elections. “We serve largely secondary and tertiary markets that unlike in national elections, we actually do better with the midterms because it is more local and state based,” Mediacom’s Templin said. “We had expectations of seeing a slight increase mid to single digits, we’re trending really well against that right now. We’re hopeful this might heat up even more than we anticipated, but we’re on target to see our goals.”

From the perspective of a national organization, the ability to hyperfocus political advertising on local elections is becoming increasingly important. “What drives the local cable business is the ability to incorporate data within our cable systems, and the ability to go multistream, and our ability to demographically and geographically target, especially in state elections,” Kay said.

The ability combine geotargeting with delivery across multiple screens and digital platforms widens cable’s reach. For NCC, Senate elections in battleground states such as Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia and Florida has its focus. Mediacom is playing close attention to the gubernatorial and congressional races in Iowa, as well as campaigns in Missouri.

Comcast Spotlight is eyeing Illinois, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Michigan. And while it may seem like elections are front and center, there’s still plenty of runway for political spending. Approximately 65% of full year political takes place between Labor Day and Election Day.

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