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The Future of TV Advertising in Politics: Challenges and Innovations

TV Advertising Expenditure in 2020 Election

The United States is gearing up for the 2020 presidential election, and with it comes a spike in political advertising spending. In the age of mass media, TV advertising remains the primary mode of reaching voters.

Political campaigns understand the importance of television for disseminating their message, and they are willing to spend big to ensure they reach their target audience. This article will explore the historical overview of political ad campaigns on TV, current TV advertising prices and trends, projected 2020 election-cycle advertising expenditure, the impact of TV advertising on the 2020 election, and the major ethical concerns that accompany TV advertising in politics.

Historical Overview of Political Ad Campaigns on TV

The use of political advertising on TV in the United States dates back to the 1950s. The first televised presidential debate between John F.

Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960 marked the beginning of a new era in political advertising. Television was now the dominant medium for reaching the masses, and campaigns began to invest more in advertising on TV.

In the early days, campaigns focused on creating memorable slogans to help them stand out. During the 1964 presidential election, Lyndon B.

Johnson’s campaign famously ran the “Daisy Girl” ad, which showed a young girl counting down to a nuclear explosion, with the implicit message that Barry Goldwater was not fit to be president. This ad helped Johnson secure a resounding victory over Goldwater.

Current TV Advertising Prices and Trends

Advertising on TV is expensive, especially during political campaign seasons. The average cost of a 30-second ad during prime time on broadcast television in 2019 was $115,000, according to Kantar Media.

This is a significant increase from previous years, with prices rising by 9% in 2018. Despite these high prices, TV advertising remains a crucial tool for political campaigns.

Broadcast TV viewership has been in decline for years, but it still reaches a large audience. In the 2016 presidential election, 96% of Americans watched TV regularly, with an average of 3.6 hours per day.

This makes broadcast television the perfect medium for campaigns to reach potential voters.

Projected 2020 Election-cycle Advertising Expenditure

It’s no secret that political campaign spending has been on the rise in recent years, and the 2020 election is expected to be no different. According to data from Advertising Analytics, political campaigns are expected to spend $6.89 billion on TV advertising in 2020, an increase of 14% from 2018.

The increase in ad spending is part of a larger trend of more competitive races and greater political polarization. As political campaigns become more expensive, big money donors are becoming more influential in shaping election outcomes.

Estimated Increase in TV Ads from 2018

In 2018, political advertising on TV was already at an all-time high, with campaigns spending $5.9 billion on ads. The 2020 election looks set to break that record, with estimates suggesting that total ad spending could reach $10 billion.

The increase in TV advertising is being driven in part by changes in campaign finance laws, which have loosened some of the restrictions on political spending in recent years. As a result, political campaigns have more money to spend on advertising, and they are putting that money to work on TV.

Broadcast Television Ad Spending Projections in 2020

The 2020 election is shaping up to be a battleground for control of the White House and Congress. As a result, broadcast television networks are set to benefit from a surge in advertising spending.

According to Advertising Analytics, the top five broadcast television networks are projected to earn $3.5 billion in political ad spending in 2020.

Joe Biden Leads in TV Advertising Spending

One candidate who has been particularly active in TV advertising is Joe Biden. As of August 2020, the Biden campaign has spent $258 million on TV ads, compared to Donald Trump’s campaign, which has spent $157 million.

Biden’s lead in TV advertising spending is part of a larger trend of Democrats outspending Republicans on TV ads. In 2018, Democratic candidates spent $2.4 billion on TV ads, compared to $1.8 billion spent by Republicans.

Major Network Ad Inventory Sales in 2020

The political advertising boom has led to a surge in demand for ad space on broadcast television networks. CBS is one of the networks set to benefit the most from this trend, with analysts predicting that the network could make as much as $400 million from political ad revenue in 2020.

CNN’s Estimated Advertising Revenue in 2020

CNN is one of the major news networks that stands to benefit from the 2020 election cycle. According to market research firm S&P Global, CNN is expected to make $1.2 billion in advertising revenue in 2020, up from $1.05 billion in 2019.

Impact of TV Advertising on the 2020 Election

Despite their high costs, political ads on TV remain an effective tool for campaigns to reach potential voters. Research suggests that political advertising can have a significant impact on voting patterns, particularly in competitive races where candidate positions are less well-known.

Effectiveness of TV Advertising for Political Campaigns

TV advertising has been proved time and time again to be an effective way of reaching potential voters. Research has shown that political ads on TV can increase voter turnout by up to 3%.

Importance of Messaging in TV Advertising

One of the most important factors in determining the effectiveness of TV advertising is the messaging used in the ads themselves. Political campaigns need to develop messages that resonate with their target audience and that can break through the noise of other ads.

Ethical Concerns Surrounding TV Advertising in Politics

With the increase in political ad spending on TV comes a growing concern over the effect that these ads can have on election outcomes. Critics argue that the ability of wealthy donors to spend unlimited sums on political campaigns has given corporations and special interests undue influence over the democratic process.

Challenges of TV Advertising During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works for many political campaigns. With social distancing measures in place, traditional methods of campaigning, such as rallies and door-to-door canvassing, have become more challenging.

TV advertising, however, has remained a bright spot in an otherwise difficult election cycle. Political campaigns can still reach potential voters through TV ads, even as other methods remain curtailed.


The 2020 presidential election has showcased the continuing importance of TV advertising in political campaigns. Despite the high costs involved, political advertising on TV remains an effective tool for candidates seeking to reach potential voters.

However, there are growing concerns over the impact of big money donors on the democratic process in the United States. Nevertheless, TV advertising is set to remain a crucial component of political campaigns for some time to come.

Future of TV Advertising in Politics

In the wake of the 2020 presidential election, many experts are asking: what does the future hold for TV advertising in politics? While TV advertising has been a dominant form of political messaging since the 1960s, trends suggest that the role of TV in political campaigns could be shifting.

This article explores the possibility of TV advertising decline, the growing role of digital advertising in political campaigns, potential innovations in TV advertising, the impact of regulation on TV advertising, and collaboration between TV networks and political campaigns.

Possibility of TV Advertising Decline

TV advertising has long been the dominant form of political messaging in the United States, but its reign could be coming to an end. There are a number of factors contributing to the potential decline of TV advertising in political campaigns.

One of the main reasons is the changing media landscape. With the rise of social media and other digital platforms, it has become easier and more cost-effective for political campaigns to reach potential voters online.

This has led to a decrease in the importance of broadcast television advertising, as more campaigns direct their resources towards online ads.

Growing Role of Digital Advertising in Political Campaigns

Digital advertising has emerged as an increasingly important tool for political campaigns in recent years. While TV advertising has long been a dominant force in political messaging, digital ads offer a number of advantages over traditional TV ads, including the ability to precisely target certain demographics and the ability to quickly respond to changing events.

One of the key strengths of digital advertising is its flexibility. Unlike TV ads, which can take weeks to produce and air, digital ads can be produced and released in a matter of hours or even minutes.

This flexibility allows campaigns to respond quickly to changing circumstances and to take advantage of rapidly evolving events.

Potential Innovations in TV Advertising

While TV advertising may be facing new challengers, there are still a number of potential innovations in TV advertising that could help to keep the medium relevant in the years to come. One potential innovation is the use of augmented reality (AR) technology in political ads.

AR allows advertisers to create interactive, immersive experiences for viewers that can help to keep them engaged and interested. For political campaigns, this could mean using AR to create compelling visualizations of key campaign messages or to provide voters with interactive maps that allow them to explore different policies and initiatives.

Another potential innovation is the use of audience targeting to deliver more relevant ads. With the rise of big data and the increasing sophistication of targeting technologies, political campaigns can now deliver ads that are tailored specifically to the interests and concerns of individual voters.

This can help to keep viewers more engaged with ads and increase their likelihood of taking action.

Impact of Regulation on TV Advertising

The role of regulation in TV advertising is another important factor to consider. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates advertising on broadcast television and radio, while the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulates political advertising.

Regulations on political advertising have become increasingly strict in recent years, which has led to a more complex regulatory environment for political campaigns. For example, the FEC requires political ads to include a “paid for by” disclaimer to indicate who is funding the ad.

The FCC also has rules regarding equal political access to TV airtime, which means that TV networks must give equal time to all political candidates.

Collaboration between TV Networks and Political Campaigns

One potential way that TV advertising could remain relevant in the future is through greater collaboration between TV networks and political campaigns. By working together, TV networks and political campaigns could create more engaging and relevant ads that are better suited to the needs and interests of viewers.

One approach to this kind of collaboration could involve TV networks partnering with political campaigns to create co-branded content. This could include behind-the-scenes looks at campaigns or interviews with key campaign staff or volunteers.

By creating content that is more informative and engaging, networks and campaigns could build stronger relationships with viewers and make TV advertising more effective.


The future of TV advertising in politics is uncertain, but one thing is clear: the media landscape is changing rapidly, and campaigns need to be able to adapt to keep up. Whether through developing new technologies or partnering with TV networks, political campaigns will need to be innovative and flexible in order to keep up with changing trends and preferences among voters.

While TV advertising may face new challenges in the years to come, there is still plenty of room for innovation and growth in this important area of political campaigning. In conclusion, the future of TV advertising in politics is facing significant challenges due to the changing media landscape.

While TV advertising has been a political campaigning staple since the 1960s, digital advertising has emerged as an increasingly important tool for political campaigns thanks to its flexibility and targeted reach. However, TV advertising still has potential for innovation and growth through the use of new technologies like AR or greater collaboration between TV networks and political campaigns.

Despite these uncertainties, political campaigns must be adaptable and innovative to keep up with changing trends and preferences among voters in the years to come.

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