Political Ad Revenue is About to Explode


    Borrell & Associates has updated its political revenue projections for the 2018 mid-term elections which are about to start kicking into gear. Borrell puts the new forecast at $8.9 billion, an increase of $400 million over its previous projection in December of 2017. Radio executives have said they expect the majority of their political advertising to come in during Q3 and Q4. So how much does Borrell expect Radio to pull in?

    The Borrell update states that the beneficiaries of the additional revenue will reside downstream, at a more local level. “There are more dollars flowing to races below the state level than we initially anticipated. That will principally benefit local media, including TV, radio, newspapers, and cable, which are best connected with local and regional communities.

    Broadcast TV continues to hold the lion’s share of political advertising, by far. Its $3.5 billion represents 39% of all spending. Combined with cable advertising ($1.1 billion, or 12.5%), we could say that TV commercials comprise half of all political advertising. The next-highest share goes to digital media, $1.8 billion, or 20%.”

    Radio, while still a small piece of the overall pie, has been making gains, according to the new Borrell report. “Radio’s gains since 2014 are due to better funding for campaigns running below the state level. Once largely ignored by parties and consultants alike, the realization has dawned that these elections determine control of state Houses and major communities. They decide issues important on national as well as local levels and develop the politicians who will one day contend for national offices. So, politicians who once worried only about where to place their signs now vie for radio time. Their spending has increased radio’s projected political ad share to almost $689 million, more than 11% higher than 2014 levels. Whether stations can maintain their political share in the face of digital competition remains and open question. Pandora and other alternatives continue to chip away at radio’s share as well, and podcasting, though quite small as an advertising medium, offers another threat.”


    1. Until local radio can supply some decent copy to local candidates, it can expect no more revenue than in past election cycles.
      I have read any number of political spots for American candidates and I almost felt bad injecting the invoice for delivering such incredible piffle.

      To wit: “Joe Schmo shares YOUR values, YOUR morals and YOUR Faith.”
      (I forget if the opposition was referred to as a Satan-worshipping, tax-avoiding, spouse-beating Commie who would also take away everybody’s guns.)
      There were, however, a number of other goofy, sloppily written claims in the copy of so many spots I have read. And yes, I did cash the checks.

      • Johnathan,
        After some serious consideration, I choose a response to your ridiculous assertion that conveys my broadest and most inclusive thoughts. After several drafts, I finally reduced my response down to one word…


    2. While a very strong and respectful fan of Mr. Borrell, and hoping that Radio gets BILLIONS of dollars at all times, I fear the overall political spend and the radio political spend will not be as high as projected.(Whew, is that a sentence, or what?) More wil go to digital than projected. Less to broadcsat TV. 1,000 TALK stations in the US are hostile toward Democrats—they will not want to be on those stations. 1,000 are pro Republican so Republicans think they don’t need to purchase those stations—it’s covered. Every year for the past 10, the projections for Radio political have been way too high and I fear that is about to happen this year.


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