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Political Campaigns will continue to use linear television as the dominant platform for advertising.

BIA is updating our estimates for 2020 political advertising spend from $6.55B to $6.58B. In 2020, linear TV will get the largest share of political ad dollars in local with TV OTA (i.e., over-the-air TV) $3.07 billion in forecast spending. Nearly another billion ($915.4 million) will be spent on Cable TV. Digital accounts for $1.42 billion of 2020 political ad spending with search and display getting the lion’s share.

Newer entrants like Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have spent hundreds of millions of dollars (and growing) in local markets. With the upcoming Iowa caucuses, candidates and super PACs are spending heavily for visibility.

Nationally, BIA is forecasting an average political spend per person in 2020 of $18.64. The top 10 largest television markets do slightly better than the national average at $18.81. But there’s a great deal of discrepancy in spend per person in the top 10 markets. Philadelphia, PA (#4) is forecast to receive political ad spend of $31.39 per person, while New York, NY (the largest market by population and the second-largest by total advertising spend) is forecast to receive political spend of $10.73 per person.

The highest per capita spending will be in battleground states in 2020. Markets in Maine, Nevada, and Arizona will receive the highest spend per capita, with over $47 in spending per person.

With a Senate race that is expected to be hotly contested, two markets in Maine, Portland-Auburn (#78) and Bangor (#155), are at the top of the list with the highest spend per pop, both nearing $50 per capita with $49.47 and $48.64 respectively. Maine’s third-largest market, Presque Isle (#205), just missed the list in 6th place.

Political pundits consider Nevada to be a wild-card state in 2020 even though Nevada leans democratic. Political advertising in small market Reno (#108) is expected to reach $48.60 per person, while in larger market Las Vegas (#40), political spending per person is $47.47.

In Arizona, a special election to fill the late John McCain’s Senate seat will drive political spending at $48.31 per person in Phoenix (#13). However, not all markets in Arizona will see an uptick in political spending. Yuma, AZ-El Centro, CA (#166), is forecast to receive less than $10 per person in political ad spend in 2020 placing it well below the national average and near the bottom of the list of 210 markets.

“In some of the smaller markets, one thing to keep an eye on is how the huge volume of political advertising could crowd out other local advertisers during primary and general election seasons. That may have an impact on advertisers and media companies, and we’ll certainly factor that into our forecasting as we go through the fall,” said Dr. Mark Fratrik, BIA’s Chief Economist. While other traditional media like radio and newspaper won’t see as much of a direct boost from political as OTA TV and cable, sellers should approach TV and cable advertisers displaced by political ads to drive them to their platforms.

Accessing the Report

BIA ADVantage subscribers can login to access the Political vertical report and run custom reports for local markets. The report can be purchased from our shop. BIA’s 2020 political forecast for all 210 markets can be purchased here.

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