Google, digital firm warn against waste of political broadcast ads

Google, digital firm warn against waste of political broadcast ads
© Google

Congressional campaigns and outside groups wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on broadcast ads last cycle that did not reach voters in their district, according to Google and the digital firm Targeted Victory. 

The two companies, which have a stake in seeing political broadcast budgets diminish, plotted broadcast ad spending in every congressional district from 2014, concluding that 75 percent of the $320 million spent on congressional races was wasted. That is because broadcast markets and congressional districts almost never align — more of a problem in lower level races than a presidential campaign. 


In total, the companies estimate $240 million was wasted on ads partially run outside the targeted district.  

Google is trying to pull campaigns toward more online and digital advertising in 2016. And Targeted Victory has wooed clients by promising more sophisticated technology to place ads on a variety of platforms — from television to mobile, search, social and video. 

While digital ad budgets are expected to increase in 2016, most estimate that it will not be more than 10 percent of total ad spending. Targeted victory has not completely sworn off broadcast ads, but says they should make up a smaller portion of budgets. 

Unsurprisingly, some of the most wasteful races of 2014, according to the companies, were also the most competitive. 

The groups estimated the most waste came in Illinois’s 10th Congressional District, where Republican Rep. Robert Dold wrestled back his seat from Brad Schneider in a race decided by fewer than 3 percentage points. 

It was estimated that 93 percent of the more than $19 million spent in the district by campaigns and outside groups ended up hitting people outside its borders.