Politics & TV: The Elephant (& the Donkey) in the Room
21 January 2020 • tvsquared
Meg Coyle,
MarCom Director

While some people love to talk about the “death of TV,” that way of thinking is misinformed and short-sighted. The definition of “TV” has evolved to include content and distribution across platforms. But even with this evolution, tried-and-true traditional linear will continue to dominate ad spend in 2020. In part, this is due to events like the Olympic Games and, most notably, the U.S. election.

TV has always been a major channel for political advertisers, offering an effective, brand-safe environment that many digital channels can’t provide. And those digital platform options are dwindling, as both Twitter and Spotify announced that they would not run political ads due to concerns over the deceitful and/or false information they might convey.

With all this in mind, TV is still positioned to be the dominant medium for political advertising, and the 2020 spend within this category is expected to be enormous (see sidebar). As Danielle DeLauro, the Executive Vice President at the VAB, said in a recent webinar with TVSquared: “There has been some big ranges in the amount of political dollars that could be spent [with TV], but what everyone pretty much agrees on is that it will be the biggest amount of political dollars that we’ve ever seen.”

Local TV advertisers will be the most impacted by the influx of political ad spend this year, with an estimated 47% being devoted to local broadcast. Non-political advertisers will find a decrease in available inventory, while the average cost of buys will increase. On top of that, audiences have dispersed across multiple platforms since the last major political season, consuming more content via streaming services. That means more money will be spent for fewer total linear impressions. And, according to DeLauro, political advertisers will be prevalent across programming genres – not just news – further adding to inventory scarcity.

Due to the tightness in the market, non-political local TV advertisers need to prepare for and even reevaluate their 2020 campaigns across platforms. That means experimenting with their video mix – leveraging cross-platform TV (OTT, VOD, CTV, etc.) to complement linear and maximize reach extension.

Download our ebook to learn more about how politics will impact the TV industry this year, as well as the other trends shaping the TV landscape in 2020 and beyond.