CNN Flush With Election Sponsorships

Jan 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

In the race for campaign advertising dollars, CNN appears to be a winner.
The cable network has sold TV and online election sponsorship packages worth between $5 million and $9 million apiece to four advertisers. Those sponsors are Hyundai, Cisco, Americans for Balanced Energy Choices and the Society for Human Resource Management.
The CNN sponsorship packages began to take effect with coverage of the Iowa caucuses last week. In addition to a schedule of spots, sponsors get tagged tune-in promos on air and in print. They also get exposure during prime-time specials and coverage of primaries, presidential and vice presidential debates, conventions and Election Day.
Online, they get promotion on CNN.com including streaming video, stories from the campaign, poll trackers and a political ticker.
Greg D’Alba, executive VP and chief operating officer of CNN Advertising Sales, expects to have two more election-coverage sponsors within the next two weeks.
He said he’s seeing demand from other advertisers looking to push their image advertising during election coverage.
And, for the first time, he’s expecting CNN to start to see a significant amount of national advertising dollars from some of the presidential candidates as the field narrows. Mr. D’Alba is basing his expectation on discussions with ad buyers who are indicating that a portion of the massive amount of money the candidates have raised will come into national media, such as CNN.
Mr. D’Alba said this year’s election is different because of the prevalence of digital media, which has allowed CNN to accommodate more full sponsors than a year ago.
Digital media also has increased the reach of CNN content beyond its cable channel.
“That’s why we’re doing so well and making more money across categories. Marketers view reach as essential to increase their market share,” he said.
The ad market is very strong right now overall, particularly in sports and news, two areas not affected by the writers strike or by commercial ratings because viewers tend to watch them live, rather than recording them on digital video recorders and skipping the spots.
Mr. D’Alba said CNN normally sees a double-digit spike in ad spending during presidential years, with about 30% of the money coming from advocacy groups.
This year, however, “The stakes are higher and no one has any idea who the front-runner is on either side. It’s wide open,” Mr. D’Alba said. “Candidates have tons of money to spend. The business of the election is alive and well and turbocharged by technology.”
Already this campaign season, CNN’s Democratic candidate debate in November was the most-watched primary debate ever, averaging more than 4 million viewers. CNN’s average over five debates in 2007 was 3.2 million total viewers. The debates also have drawn 4.8 million unique viewers to CNN.com.
Mr. D’Alba said other advertisers are looking at election coverage as a good environment for corporate image campaigns.
And getting presidential money would be a big change.
“There’s so much money being raised online,” he said. “As soon as we get a more defined running team, we’re going to see a lot more money.”

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