Study: Internet Political Spending at $7.2M

Spending on U.S. political advertising is projected to exceed $1.45 billion this year, with Internet advertising trailing all other media at $7.2 million, according to media research firm TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Spending across federal, state, and local races, as well as ballot issues, centered largely on spot television ads, where $1.3 billion, or 88.1 percent of ad dollars were spent. Radio came in a distant second, with just 6.1 percent of spending, followed by newspapers at 3.5 percent, network cable TV at 1.7 percent, and Internet at just 0.5 percent.

“The charged political environment this year was a strong driver of spending for the advertising industry. Candidates seeking election, special interest groups looking to support or defeat various candidates and ballot initiatives resulted in an infusion of spending in national and local media as interested parties tried to communicate their messages to the voting public,” said Steven Fredericks, president and CEO of TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Spending for the presidential race made up the lion’s share of political ad spending, with 41.5 percent of dollars being spent there. Next were other federal races, at 27.1 percent, then state and local ballot issues at 17.0 percent, followed by state and local campaign spending at 14.4 percent.

“Political advertising in Election 2004 has been a watershed event and will change how future election campaigns are implemented,” said Evan Tracey, COO of TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, a TNSMI/CMR company that tracks political ad spending. “Advertising for both the presidential and other down ballot races was historic in size. The number and diversity of advertisers and messages will now create a roadmap of new standards by which future campaign advertising battles will be waged.”

In the first ten months of 2004, presidential election spending across select TNS Media Intelligence/CMR measured media reached $601 million, 42 percent of the total dollars spent on political advertising messages. Federal, State and Local election messages, along with ballot issue advertising activity totaled $847 million.

Political Ad Spending: January to October 2004(1)
Spot TV (millions) Network Cable TV (millions) Local Radio (millions) Newspaper (Natl & Local) (millions) Internet (millions) % of Total Dollars
Presidential (2) $546.6 $24.5 $25.5 $0.2 $4.2 41.5%
Federal (Senate, House, Fed Issue) $379.4 $0 $10.5 $1.0 $1.0 27.1%
State and Local
(Excl. ballot Issue)
$173.6 $0 $18.4 $17.2 $0.1 14.4%
State and Local (Ballot Issue) $176.7 $0 $34.6 $32.5 $1.9 17.0%
Grand Total $1,276.3 $24.5 $89.0 $51.0 $7.1 100%
Notes: (1) Figures are based on the TNS Media Intelligence/CMR Stradegy2 multimedia ad expenditure database across the measured media noted in the chart. Figures are estimates and do not contain public service announcement (PSA) data. (2) Presidential spending reflects the period of 3/3/04 thru 10/28/04
Source: TNS Media Intelligence/CMR

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