Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What's Behind the Early Start for Political TV Ads?

Political TV advertising seems to have started to flood the airwaves earlier than normal for the midterm elections. Before blaming the Citizens United decision and big-money PACs, consider these four other trends cited by Elizabeth Wilner of Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group on a recent Political Wire podcast. First of all, the early start is not a new trend, she points out; political TV advertising, in volume and expenditure, has been starting earlier and earlier for the last three election cycles, as advertisers use the lower-rate period to define and attack opponents and catch voter attention. The Citizen's United (and McCutcheon) decision, which unleashed spending by outside groups and individuals, is just one factor; hot issues, such as the Affordable Care Act, and party strategy, such as the battle for control of the Senate, have sparked some early TV ads, too. Campaigns are also beginning to push their online and social media efforts in non-digital channels; even in the 2012 election, few TV ads promoted a digital presence, but more early TV spots are appearing to feature Twitter hashtags and urls at least, Wilner noted. Finally, groups outside of the parties and candidates are also trying to jump in early with a more positive spin than the attack ads that turned off some voters in 2012 -- if only to woo the electorate into accepting the negative ad blitz that is likely to follow as election battles heat up come fall. For more on Wilner's remarks, see The Week article at http://theweek.com/article/index/261387/whats-behind-the-surge-in-political-tv-ads

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