Political ad spending is projected to hit a new record of 11.4 billion this year – up from 2015’s $5 billion, according to The United States Election Project by Borrell. With political ad spending quickly on the rise, this represents a tremendous opportunity for the newspaper industry as it is projected to receive approximately $850 million in total revenue from all electoral contests this year. Yet it is the connection that newspapers have with voters, particularly in local elections, that can serve as a resource for candidates and further showcase the relationships newspapers have with their audience.
“Politics is a very local business and a great thing for us is that newspapers are the local connection,” says John Kimball, managing general partner at the Kimball Group. “And really, no other medium we compete with comes close.”
In NAA’s recent webinar “Maximizing Newspaper Political Advertising in a Record Spending Year,” Kimball explained that 75 percent of all the election activity will be in local campaigns, which are where newspapers have the most brand recognition and the highest opportunities for influence. Kimball breaks down the “good news” for newspapers when it comes to political advertising revenue and how they can be a major, sought-after player during elections:
- Readers vote. Voters read. In fact, around seven in ten voters in each of the Democrat, Republican, and Independent categories – and those in between – regularly consume newspaper media, according to Nielsen Scarborough 2015 data. The correlation between newspaper readership and voting behavior continues to be strong, emphasizing how engaged voters are with newspapers.
- Seniors are avid newspaper readers and the most reliable voting community. In 2012, voter turnout among seniors was approximately 72 percent, compared to only 41 percent of the youth vote, according to Pew Research Center and the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, according to Nielsen Scarborough 2015 data, 73 percent of older voters read a print or digital newspaper in an average week. Newspapers should make political advertisers aware of this engaged and reliable demographic when looking for groups to whom they should be targeting advertising for their campaigns.
- Voters find newspaper ads and websites more reliable and accurate than other media. The strong level of trust in newspapers is one of the defining features of our industry. Political advertisers, also looking to gain trust and credibility with the public, could benefit from the strong foundation that newspapers provide.
- Nearly eight in ten (77%) of those who always vote in local elections also contribute to political organizations. Kimball shares that this is a very attractive point for candidates, as newspapers “deliver the people who they can then appeal to [in order] to help fund those campaigns.”
With this in mind, Kimball stresses the importance of simplicity in presenting ad packages to prospective advertisers, clearly and concisely showing clients what they are receiving at a particular price point. Doing so will help reduce ambiguity and create a straightforward package.
Ultimately, Kimball explained, newspapers surpass all other media in connecting with voters, making them a smart choice for investments in political advertising. With such an engaged audience, the newspaper industry serves as a great resource for advertisers looking to reach individuals who trust their product.
“I personally think we have an opportunity as an industry this year to crack the billion dollar mark [in ad spending] and that would be a pretty impressive story to be able to tell,” said Kimball. “I think it really puts us on the path for some real revenue success.”
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.