‘Record-breaking’ $10.7B could be spent on political ads this election: AdImpact

The ad tracking company AdImpact estimates a whopping $10.7 billion will be spent on political ads during the 2024 election cycle, which would be a 19 percent jump from the 2020 cycle.

AdImpact also said it has tracked more than 7,400 unique political TV ads, 700 more than it tracked through the same period in 2022 and 2,600 more than in 2020.

Around half of that topline total — $5.35 billion — is expected to go toward broadcast television ads, according to AdImpact’s latest Political Projections Report released Monday. The company expects another $1.9 billion will be spent on cable, $1.5 billion on CTV, $381 million on radio, $309 on network cable and $102 million on satellite.

AdImpact adjusted its digital ad spending forecast slightly to $1.12 billion from its initial $1.18 billion estimate, the only expected decrease.

“We still project growth in digital spending compared to the 2022 cycle; however, a slow Presidential primary that did not utilize digital in the same capacity as 2020 resulted in this decrease,” according to the AdImpact report.

AdImpact also projects nearly $2.7 billion will be spent on political ads in the presidential election, $2.2 billion in Senate races, $1.8 billion in House races, $469 million in gubernatorial contests and $3.6 billion in down-ballot races.

With 127 days to go until the Nov. 5 election, AdImpact says “the true spending season has not yet started,” particularly after a relatively uneventful presidential primary season that has resulted in a 2020 rematch between President Biden and former President Trump.

Presidential political ad spending accounted for just 20 percent of the $3.1 billion spent on political ads through June 30, far below the 51 percent targeting presidential candidates through the same period during the 2020 cycle.

“As Presidential spending rapidly increases after the party conventions this summer, the 2024 cycle will set its pace to become the most expensive political cycle of all time,” AdImpact forecasts.

Competitive races and potential abortion-related ballot measures have largely shaped AdImpact’s forecast of spending across states.

“Toss up” Senate races, as rated by the nonpartisan election handicapper the Cook Political Report, are driving spending in Ohio and Montana, with nearly $50 million flowing into political ads during each primary. While Maryland’s Senate race is rated “likely Democrat,” it’s the second most expensive Senate primary so far this cycle with more than $60 million in spending.

Maryland and Montana may also have abortion-related ballot measures, which upped their projected spending, according to AdImpact, which also noted “the anticipated spike in Florida’s spending is largely attributed to the inclusion of abortion and marijuana initiatives on the ballot this November.”

Sens. Joe Manchin (I-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) decisions to not seek reelection contributed to the largest decrease in projected spending.

Manchin’s retirement shifted the Cook Political Report outlook in the West Virginia race from toss up to “solid Republican,” and while Sinema’s announcement did not have an initial impact on the race rating, there was little spending in what could have been a competitive primary, AdImpact noted.

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