As Ad Age first reported in early September, overall media spending in the first half of 2020 was down 19% compared to the same period in 2019, according to Kantar, thanks to the pandemic recession. Campaign advertising, though, has been a blazing bright spot for the bottom lines of a number of media companies. There was, of course, no major election cycle in 2019, so the year-over-year data is obviously skewed, but Kantar’s “government, politics and religion” category increased 47% during the first half. And all indications are that, when all is said and done, we’ll have seen record campaign ad spending across the entire 2019-2020 election cycle.
We’re used to the idea that traditional measured media—TV and radio—has finite inventory. But as Bloomberg News reported last week, “At times, YouTube is so inundated with election ads that it has been unable to place as much as three quarters of the amounts campaigns would like to spend on a given day.”
Fox News scores big
At the national TV level, no network has done better than Fox News when it comes to sopping up revenue from campaign ads. It’s no surprise the Trump campaign spent the most—$19.5 million—on placing ads on Fox News during the post-primary season; it is, of course, the TV-Viewer-in-Chief’s favorite channel. But Joe Biden also spent $6.1 million on Fox News during the post-primary season—within spitting distance of the $6.6 million his campaign spent on CNN. Throw in some miscellaneous PAC money, and Fox News pulled in a total of $26.3 million in presidential campaign ad dollars in the space of six months.
Fox—aka the Fox Broadcasting Company, and the corporate sibling of Fox News—grabs second place with $13.3 million, while CBS is third with $12.6 million.
The most astounding windfalls, though, have come at the local level. For instance, Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV has pulled in a total of $17.8 million for airing ads from Team Biden, Team Trump, and pro-Biden and pro-Trump PACs during the post-primary season. Another Orlando station, NBC affiliate WESH, pulled in $13.5 million over the same time period. All told, the 10 local TV stations that saw the biggest campaign-ad windfalls collectively pulled in $140.3 million.
In addition to Orlando, the swing-state cities pulling in the most local TV campaign advertising revenue were Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Charlotte (N.C.) and Miami.
One last note about windfall regions: In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a margin of less than a quarter of one percent in Michigan: 47.50% vs. 47.27%. In election post-mortems, the Clinton campaign was pilloried for ignoring Michigan—or at least taking it for granted.
Joe Biden and his supporters seem to have gotten the message. His campaign has spent $4.1 million advertising on Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV, while pro-Biden PACs spent another $9.2 million with the station. Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK sold $3.0 million of advertising time to Team Biden, while pro-Biden PACs spent an additional $6.6 million. And Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ got $3.2 million from the Biden campaign, plus another $6.3 million from pro-Biden PACs. (Again, all figures are for the post-primary season.)
In short, of the top 10 local TV stations that saw the highest campaign-ad windfalls in mid-to-late 2020, three are in Detroit—and all three of those stations drew a lot more cash from Biden and pro-Biden PACs than Trump and pro-Trump PACs.
This content was originally published here.