Broadcasters push political campaigns to buy more ads

Broadcasters push political campaigns to buy more ads
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The broadcast industry is looking to protect its stronghold in the political ad world. 

A broadcast industry trade group — TVB — is going up with a series of local Washington, D.C., ads over the weekend telling political campaigns why advertising on networks is beneficial. Those ads will air during the political Sunday show lineups on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. 

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The trade group is spending no money on the relatively small buy because the local stations, which benefit from the publicity, are donating the time. The group is also discussing whether to expand the campaign into other areas. 

"The top 100 regularly scheduled TV shows that reach the key 35 plus voter demographic, 95 of them are on broadcast TV. Don't let your message get lost in the dark. Your voters are here. Target wisely. Target broadcast," the ad says. 

TVB, Local Media Marketing Solutions, says it represents "television broadcast groups, advertising sales reps, syndicators, international broadcasters, associate members and almost 700 individual television stations."

While digital and cable advertising have become more widely used in recent elections, broadcast remains king. TV spending could hit $4.4 billion this cycle, according to estimates from Kantar Media. 

President Obama's reelection campaign was credited for pushing more resources into cable and digital advertising, but even that took up a small percentage of the ad budget. At the time, David Axelrod noted that broadcast isn't "always terribly efficient, but you hit a lot of people."

Digital firms who are trying to skew more toward digital and cable are not advising campaigns to completely abandon broadcast. Instead, they just want to shrink the percentage spent over the airwaves, which can total 80-to-90 percent of campaign ad budgets. 

Google and the digital firm Targeted Victory released statistics earlier this year that found 75 percent of the $320 million in 2014 broadcast ad spending on congressional races was wasted. That is because broadcast markets and congressional districts almost never align, so the ads many times reach voters outside targeted voting districts.