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February 4th, 2016 | Read more articles from 2016 or Visit the News Archive
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Appearing at Spots n Dots


Early caucus/primary states have already been inundated with political ads—but the election year is just getting underway. Despite all the buzz about how political advertising is changing—with highly-targeted digital campaigns, TV is still the most important way for candidates and PACs to deliver their message to voters.

A recent study by Nielsen explored how identifying the right dayparts and programs in local markets can effectively reach voters across the full political spectrum including Super Democrats, Ultra Conservatives and On-The-Fence Liberals, as well as Conservative Democrats, Left-Out Democrats, Mild Republicans, Uninvolved Conservatives and Green Traditionalists. For the study, Nielsen matched TV viewing data from second-quarter 2015 with voter segmentation data in the Cleveland, Denver and Tampa-St. Petersburg DMAs.

Some findings were predictable. In Tampa-St. Petersburg, miniseries, evening news, prime-time dramas, reality TV and sports such as golf and college basketball were among the top local broadcast programs to reach key voter categories. Across all English- and Spanish language Tampa-St. Petersburg stations, local broadcast delivered composite ratings of 8.4 or higher among Super Democrats, Ultra Conservatives and Green Traditionalists, showing the ability to reach voters with precision and scale.

Nielsen found though that voter groups’ programming preferences can vary by local broadcast and cable. When it comes to local broadcast viewing in Denver, Ultra Conservatives watched primetime crime and mystery dramas and miniseries, and Super Democrats watched primetime sitcoms and dramas and the hockey playoffs. Meanwhile, the study found Super Democrats were more likely to watch hockey and baseball on local cable, while Ultra Conservatives preferred baseball and home improvement programs. The research also indicated that local sports programs on cable delivered much higher voter ratings when compared to standard ratings.

Who should TV folks be rooting for—strictly for business reasons? A survey of political ad agencies by STRATA found that the people buying all those political ads believe the most lucrative course would be Jeb Bush (44%) for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton (100%) for the Democrats. Despite his “businessman” resume, Donald Trump (22%) came in third on the GOP side, behind Marco Rubio (28%).

The STRATA survey found that 88% of agencies are using Spot TV more than any other medium. It also leads in ROI, according to 78%, leading social media (11%),National TV (6%) and digital video (6%).


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