The 2016 presidential election will see a 20 percent increase in ad spending with digital breaking $1 billion for the first time, according to a report by Borrell Associates, a firm that tracks ad spending.
That increase is projected to bring the total spent in the 2015-16 cycle to $11.4 billion by the time votes are counted.
In addition to the expenditures stemming from the contest for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations, “almost half of that money will be spent at the local level, delivering messages about candidates and issues concerning governors, state legislative districts, ballot issues, and regional and city governments,” according to the report titled “2015–2016 Political Advertising Outlook,” released Tuesday.
Meanwhile, digital consultants will be big winners this cycle with online ad spending projected to crack the $1 billion level for the first time in 2016, the report stated. The bulk of that spending, below the presidential level, will be made by House candidates who the authors, led by Kip Cassino, project will drop more than $176.6 million on digital.
That’s followed by city and local elections where $134.6 is projected to be spent on online ads. Still, the digital total is only about 10 percent of ad money being spent by campaigns, the authors noted, “a far cry from the 30% to 50% of budgets that other ad categories earmark for digital media.” That won’t last though.
Going forward, the authors project digital ad spending, which includes run-of-site display, targeted display, email marketing, paid search placement, streaming video and streaming audio as well as mobile devices and social sites, to double by 2018 and then hit almost $3.3 billion by 2020.
For this cycle, the authors also noted the incredibly high bar that will be set for a presidential candidate to compete in advertising nationally. An average presidential candidate will need to “ante up $120 million” for his or her spots to stand a chance of clinching the nomination. In fact, the nominees will likely have to spend significantly more. At the presidential level in 2012, President Obama and Mitt Romney together with their allies spent some $2.6 billion.
Going down the ballot, Senate candidates will need to spend $7 million on average and House candidates $1.6 million on advertising. Meanwhile, the average local official will need roughly $60,000 to get elected, according to the report.
Station owners and publishers in key states will benefit the most from the presidential-cycle deluge. California and Texas voters, for instance, will see $1.2 billion and $896 million, respectively, spent on ads.
Further down the line, Florida with an open-seat Senate election is projected to see $800 million in spending, while Virginia, without a Senate race, is expected to see $459 million in spending and Colorado, where Sen. Michael Bennet (D) is up, will see $295 million.