Political Advertising

TV Ads Haven’t Worked

First Read notes that “according to the normal rules of politics, millions of dollars in positive TV ads — especially before the airwaves get saturated — are supposed to help your poll numbers. But that hasn’t been the case for Jeb Bush. Per our SMG Delta data, Bush and his allies have spent a whopping $38 million in ads since September, more than the twice as much as the nearest competition. Yet Bush’s numbers have only declined — he’s at just 3% in the new CNN poll, and our December NBC/WSJ poll found 48% of Republican voters saying they COULDN’T see themselves supporting him (versus 32% who said this back in March).”

Do TV Ads Still Work?

GOP political strategist Mark McKinnon to NPR: “There’s just very little return on media dollars anymore in politics, because people just don’t believe political advertising. They’re just demanding authenticity and something that they think is real, and they know that advertising is not real. So, you might as well just burn that money.”

Earlier for members: Have political television ads finally lost their effectiveness?

Super PACs Must Pay Much More for TV Ads

National Journal notes a federal law “protects campaigns’ ability to talk to voters by guaranteeing them the ‘lowest unit rate’ on TV ads near election time. But those laws contain no such protections for super PACs, which are at the whims of market rates that go sky-high before elections.”

“Super PACs are ascendant in this presidential campaign, raising more money and sometimes taking on more prominent roles than the candidates they support. But despite their gaudy fundraising and spending figures, the dollars they pour into TV advertising will only buy a fraction of the actual time on TV that the official campaigns can get themselves.”

Search Advertising May Soon Dominate Campaigns

Google highlights Gov. Scott Walkers’ re-election campaign’s use of advertising tied to search terms in an interesting new case study.

Wall Street Journal: “Among the findings: Mr. Walker’s re-election team raised more money from ads pegged to Google searches than it spent to buy space above those search results, an unusually high return-on-investment for political campaigns; his team also worked with the company to reach more than 5 million targeted voters in key ZIP codes through YouTube ads in the weeks leading up to Election Day.”

“Some people are ditching their TVs entirely in favor of the Internet. The shift means political candidates will have to employ a more sophisticated media mix to reach the highest-value voters – like loyal Republicans in a GOP primary or the ever-dwindling sliver of truly undecided swing voters in the general election. The most nimble campaigns will use these new technologies to their advantage by adjusting their message — and the delivery mechanism for that message — throughout the race.”

2016 Campaign Starts With Mostly Negative Ads

Elizabeth Wilner: “Only 4% of all TV ad occurrences captured by Kantar Media CMAG in the 2016 presidential race so far have been positive.”

“It’s based on a universe of 321 presidential occurrences on local broadcast and national cable as of April 9… Ultimately, 321 is 0.03% of the 1.15 million occurrences we tracked from start to finish in the 2008 race and 0.02% of the 1.43 million we tracked for 2012. But in the annals of preemie presidential advertising, the 4% stands in striking contrast in one respect. By this point in the 2008 and 2012 cycles, all the way-too-early ads that had aired… sought to build candidates up, not tear them down.”

Digital Political Ads Set to Explode in 2016

Reuters: “By one estimate U.S. online political advertising could quadruple to nearly $1 billion in the 2016 election, creating huge opportunities for digital strategy firms eager to capitalize on a shift from traditional mediums like television.”

“These firms – mostly small, partisan and based in Washington and surrounding suburbs – have grown in sophistication since the last presidential election in 2012. A niche sector in a multi-billion election industry, they are poised to play a much bigger role in 2016 as digital ads assume more importance and change the way political money is spent on advertising.”

Facebook Says Ads Sparked Political Donations

“Facebook conducted two experiments with Democratic Senate campaigns this year to see if advertisements on its site encouraged people to make political contributions. The company says the results show it did,” the New York Times reports.

“The results are potentially good news for online political fund-raising — and for Facebook’s advertising revenue, not incidentally — but there are questions about how much credit the social media platform should get for the money being raised. If the results can be replicated, it’s also likely that campaigns will introduce similar efforts on other platforms that combine ads with web content like videos and audio. Google, which offers both advertising and email services, is one logical candidate.”

The Worst Political Ad of 2014

A controversial ad by Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) attempted to link former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) to an allegedly lax record on sentencing sex offenders but it backfired badly.

The Fix: “Begich pulled the ad — but the damage was very much done. Up until that point — early September — Begich had been the candidate with the momentum, maintaining a steady polling edge over Sullivan despite the conservative nature of the state. The Active ad ended that momentum. From that point onward, Begich’s numbers tumbled while Sullivan’s soared.”

The Willie Horton Ad of 2014

“The National Republican Congressional Committee went up with an ad Friday tying the Democratic nominee in a competitive Nebraska House race to Nikko Jenkins, a former inmate convicted of murdering four people after his early release from jail,” Roll Call reports.

“It’s an ad reminiscent of the Willie Horton spot former President George H.W. Bush ran in 1988, tying his Democratic opponent to a convicted murderer who raped a woman while on a weekend pass from prison.”

Campaigns Looking for Prime Spots on the Web

“It turns out that the Internet does not have infinite capacity. At least not for political ads,” the New York Times reports.

“As an increasing number of campaigns and outside groups are finding out, premium space on the web has long been booked. Digital advertising is maturing much in the way television did, as targeting becomes more sophisticated and the definition of a viewer expands drastically… The more savvy players in the coming midterm elections made pre-emptive strikes to ensure ad placement when it matters most.”

The Best TV Shows for Political Ads

“Six weeks before Election Day, campaigns are deciding where and when they want to air their political ads all over the country. But not all shows and networks are equal in the eyes of media buyers. They have more choices than ever, and they approach these decisions with deliberation and armed with ratings data,” Roll Call reports.

“In interviews, operatives repeatedly said they look for three kinds of programs for political ads: Live events, and shows that attract women and seniors. Both parties fight fiercely for the female demographic, and seniors serve as one of the most reliable voting blocs in a midterm.”

Distorted Audio in Ad Draws Criticism

Connecticut gubernatorial candidate John McKinney (R) ran his first ad of the election cycle which included audio of rival Tom Foley (R) that was significantly edited to change its meaning, the Hartford Courant reports.

In the commercial, Foley is twice heard saying, “I’m not going to cut spending.”

But according to the original audio from the radio station that ran the interview, Foley actually said the following: “I’m not saying I’m going to cut spending; I’m saying I’m going to hold spending flat.”