Ad Money Stays at Stations With Earliest Presidential Primaries

Aug 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

States that push up their primary election dates may get a greater say in who becomes president — but their television stations aren’t pulling in more advertising revenue.
Instead, stations in the states that traditionally hold the first primaries — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — are pulling in more sales. More political money also is moving into national cable TV commercial time.
“You can’t campaign in 20 states. Nobody has the time to do it. It’s probably made Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina more important,” said Jeff Bartlett, general manager and president of WMUR-TV, the Hearst-Argyle ABC affiliate in Manchester, N.H.
In the coming election, more than 20 states have scheduled primaries on Feb. 5, whereas in the past some of the biggest states have held their races in May or June. Florida shifted its primary to Jan. 29, part of the movement to hold primaries before nominees have been selected.
Political strategists said the rush puts a premium on doing well in the first three races.
“What it means for the secondary candidates is they have to make a break — something that keeps them alive,” said Joe Slade White, whose firm is handling Sen. Joe Biden’s campaign advertising. “The amounts of money in the follow-up states are so big, you can’t rationally hope for enough … so resources depend on momentum.”
Arnold Klinsky, VP/general manager of WHEC-TV in Rochester, N.Y., said he doesn’t really expect advertising in New York, despite the state’s moving up of its primary to Feb. 5.
“I believe the money won’t be spent in New York. The candidates probably consider [they’re] conceding New York to Hillary [Clinton] on the Democratic ticket and to Rudy [Giuliani] on the Republican ticket. A win in New York, their home states, will be somewhat meaningless, and I’d expect other candidates, knowing it, will be spending their money somewhere else.”
So this year, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are receiving most of the TV ad spending, according to TNS Media Intelligence’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. The biggest exception this year is an early $280,000 purchase in Florida by Republican Mitt Romney, who now advertises mainly in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The states that moved up their primaries are missing out on a significant increase in ad revenue. Through Aug. 6, total spending of $7.9 million was well ahead of the $2.8 million posted four years ago. So far, Iowa has pulled in $3.1 million, New Hampshire nabbed $1.9 million and South Carolina took $200,000.
National cable’s take of $1.8 million dwarfs the $7,000 spent there four years ago. The Romney campaign purchased most of the national cable time.
TV stations and cable companies serving the early states are thrilled.
Dale Woods, general manager and president of NBC affiliate WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, said political ads now represent a quarter of the local spots on the station and that sales are picking up. Sen. Clinton’s campaign launched ads there last week.
“Four years ago there was really one party,” Mr. Woods said of the primary contests. “Now it’s an open seat.”
Spot cable purchases, which target specific locales, also have been doing well, according to National Cable Communications, the joint spot-cable selling organization set up by Comcast, Time Warner and Cox.
Buying started in March this year, compared with September four years ago, said Andrew Capone, National Cable Communications’ senior VP of marketing and business development.
Much of the buying has been in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, he said.

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)