And I Approve This Message

You’ll be hearing that phrase frequently as political season winds down this month.

TV political advertising spending throughout the country is headed to set a record this year.  It’s estimated that $3 billion will be spent by the Nov. 2 general election, breaking previous highs of nearly $2.7 billion in 2008 (a presidential election year) and $2.4 billion in 2006.

Nationally, non-political advertisers should expect limited or premium-priced inventory availability this month. However, air-time inventory is reasonably available in the local market.

National demand on TV ad space in some markets is so strong that, for the first time, ABC affiliates will have an opportunity to purchase inventory from the network’s national allotment and use it for local ad demand. Journal Broadcast Group, which owns Tucson’s ABC affiliate KGUN 9, hasn’t needed to take that direction — yet.

“We are holding off making that decision at this time,” said Scott Rein, national sales manager for KGUN 9. “The demand is high, but not as high as we anticipated.”

That tepid temperature seems to permeate most of the local radio and TV station groups and newspapers, as well.

What started as a very hot primary election advertising environment has chilled down locally, as we head to Nov. 2.  The most noticeable void is from John McCain and his supporters: None of the key media outlets we spoke to have anything booked for McCain up to the general election.

Traditionally, many local advertisers pull back their advertising during the last few weeks leading up to an election — a tactic to avoid paying top dollar or being preempted by the political ads.  However, there is no need to pull back this year. The word is rates aren’t at the top of the rate card in most programming areas, but we recommend not buying rock bottom either — you don’t want to risk having your ads bumped in the event that big, pricey advertising comes in and buys all the available airtime.

Newspapers aren’t much different, except that they have the advantage of printing more pages if the ad space demand increases. A notable difference is the Arizona Daily Star’s self-imposed moratorium, which restricts political ads beyond the Saturday prior to the election.  This alleviates any concerns over giving a candidate time to rebut their competition’s message right before the election, according to executive editor Bobbie Jo Buel. Political advertising can be placed through Election Day if the message is a simple “Get out and vote.”

The overall trend news for local advertisers is that although political ads are being placed at a healthy pace, there is still air-time inventory for your ads.  And don’t forget to take advantage of the nontraditional advertising opportunities that radio, TV and newspapers offer.

If you still aren’t sure what offices are up for election, who’s running against whom, or what propositions are out there, keep an eye out for the Arizona Daily Star’s election tab, which will profile candidates and propositions on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010.

(Thanks to tdmartin for the photo.)

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