Political Ad Spend to Reach $6 Billion for 2020 Election

Growth in political ad spending is expected to slow dramatically during the 2019-2020 election cycle, according to Kantar Media, which predicts political campaigns for US federal office will spend $6 billion on paid media placements this year. But a greater share than ever will be directed toward digital channels.

Kantar predicts federal election spending this cycle to increase 14%. Growth in 2018 was 21%.

Of the $6 billion in political campaign spending this cycle, Kantar expects 20%, or $1.2 billion, to go to digital. TV still wins the lion’s share of campaign budgets, with almost three-quarters of the total split between broadcast and cable TV.

Other recent estimates, from political ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics and marketing analytics company Cross Screen Media, posited an even greater reliance on digital tactics. The two companies also predicted that US political campaigns would spend $6 billion on ads this cycle, but they expected $1.6 billion to be devoted to digital video alone. That was more than double 2018 digital video spending and more than the $1.02 billion they thought political campaigns would spend on cable TV ads.

Demand-side platform Centro released information in June about how state and local campaigns that had used Centro’s platform to buy ads in the 2018 election cycle allocated their spending. A majority (56%) went to video.

We estimate that US advertisers will spend $42.58 billion on digital video placements overall, amounting to 28.1% of digital ad spending. Most of those placements will be bought programmatically, with 82.% of US digital video ad spending forecast to be transacted in automated channels next year.