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Survey: Bush/Clinton Political Match-Up Most Lucrative for Advertisers

February 1st, 2016 | Read more articles from 2016 or Visit the News Archive
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—STRATA Survey of Political Ad Agencies Finds Donald Trump Ranks Just Third As Likely Top GOP Spender—

CHICAGO (February 1 , 2016) – A Bush versus Clinton presidential race would be best for business for the nation’s leading political advertising firms. That’s the conclusion of STRATA’s new survey of national political ad agencies. When asked which candidate would generate the strongest ad spend, 44% of agencies feel that former Governor Jeb Bush would be the strongest Republican revenue generator, while they unanimously agreed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be highest spending Democratic nominee.

Senator Marco Rubio followed Bush as the number two choice, with 28% of agencies saying he’d spend the most. Most surprisingly, front-runner Donald Trump came in as the third potentially highest spending Republican with just 22% of agencies selecting Trump as their top choice. STRATA, an advertising technology firm and maker of media buying and selling software, polled agencies representing approximately 75% of total political advertising billings nationwide.

“Not that surprising that from a pure business perspective, political advertising agencies would like to see a Clinton-Bush matchup,” said Judd Rubin, Vice President of STRATA. “But the story is Trump and his use command of the earned media game. We’ve never seen anything like it and we may never see it again.  After this campaign, there will be college courses examining Trump’s uncanny ability to demand media attention including his use of Twitter.”  

The survey also shows that spot (local) TV is still the overwhelming choice of political advertisers and provides the best return on investment. Eighty-three percent of agencies utilize spot TV the most with national TV trailing second with 11% of agencies. Spot TV is viewed as providing the best return on investment (ROI) according to 78% of agencies, while other agencies feel social media (11%), national TV (6%) and digital video (6%) are better vehicles to communicate candidates’ message.

Also surprising is that client budgets allocated for political advertising this year are just modestly larger or even flat for many political agencies. When compared to past presidential election years, 33% of agencies saw political advertising budgets remain the same. Budgets increased up to 20% for 56% of agencies, and another 11% of agencies saw budget increases of over 20%.

While social media remains strong for campaigns, paid social is different as it accounts for less than 10% of ad budgets for a majority of the agencies polled. The most utilized social platform is Facebook, which is used by 79% of agencies. YouTube and Twitter are used by 58%, followed by Instagram and Google+ (32% each), and Snapchat (27%). LinkedIn tied Periscope at 5% of agencies.

“Political campaigns have become very sophisticated in how they reach potential voters, yet they continue to feel that the traditional medium of spot TV is the most effective advertising tool, even as the advertising industry continues to fragment outside of political advertising,” added Rubin.

 For spot TV, most ads are purchased very close to their actual airtime as 95% of agencies generally purchase political spot TV ads less than one month in advance. Looking forward, 89% agencies predict October 2016 to be the month with the largest ad spend.

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