Political Ad Spending in Newspapers

By Sheila Brooks, Ph.D.

Spending on political ads is big business for the media, especially during Congressional mid-term elections. Billions of dollars will be spent to woo voters before they head to the polls in November. In fact, political ad spending projected to set a record in 2018.

According to a report by Borrell, expected expenditures on political ads will reach approximately $8.5 billion, a record for a non-presidential year. “We’re facing an important year in 2018 because many will consider it a referendum on what happened in 2016,” said report author Kip Cassino. “PAC money has swelled up considerably in advance of this, and it’s only the beginning of what is likely to be a never-ending campaign of political marketing in both odd-numbered years and even-numbered years.”

Meanwhile, digital and social media political ads are experiencing rapid growth. That is good news for newspapers, especially community newspapers that tend to target more diverse audiences.

Consumers today are increasingly getting their news from print and online content, mobile apps, and social media sites. A new national poll by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics says more young people are expected to vote in this year’s mid-term elections than in the past two years. The report says that more than 30% of young Americans will vote.

Since newspapers are overwhelming using digital and social media channels to target the younger audiences, this election will be huge for the print media. Small newspaper publishers should do whatever they can to position themselves to benefit from the coming wave of advertising dollars.

Dr. Sheila Brooks is founder, president and CEO of SRB Communications, a full-service, boutique, multicultural advertising and marketing agency in Washington, D.C. She is an award-winning journalist, entrepreneur, author and advocate for minority and women’s issues and small businesses. Dr. Brooks teaches a graduate course in multicultural marketing as an adjunct professor on the faculty in the Strategic Public Relations program at The George Washington University.