The 2020 US presidential election campaign has been extraordinary in many ways, not least because of the vast sums that have been spent on political advertising in comparison with previous years.

According to Advertising Analytics, a company which tracks ad spending in real time, the candidates in the 2016 presidential election spent nearly $85m on national TV advertising, but that has shot up to nearly $247.5m this year since the beginning of January.

As reported by Variety, the amounts being spent are “truly extraordinary”, according to Mark Lieberman, CEO of Viamedia, which helps advertisers place commercials on local cable networks.

What’s more, Kantar/CMAG, a non-partisan tracker of political ad spending, estimated in July that campaigns would spend more than $7bn overall across national and local TV, radio, Google and Facebook in 2020. And Steve Passwaiter, the unit’s vice president and general manager, said it could go even higher than that.

Clever targeting of key swing states, such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, has been taking place at a local level, but this year has also witnessed both the Trump and Biden teams taking out expensive spots at important national sporting events.

The Super Bowl, for example, provided the first signal that spending patterns had changed, Variety reported, as both campaigns were prepared to pay between $5m and $5.6m for a 30-second ad.

Joe Biden’s campaign also sought to win over baseball fans of the World Series with a 60-second ad narrated by actor Brad Pitt and broadcast by Fox during the fourth game of the series.

According to the Variety report, the Biden campaign’s decision to take out ads during these influential sporting events “no doubt offered some comfort to beleaguered US media companies grappling with advertising shortfalls during the coronavirus pandemic”.

Meanwhile, Advertising Analytics has estimated that the Senate races in Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Montana and Arizona have already become the top ten most expensive Senate races of all time, with North Carolina alone accounting for $241m of advertising spend.

Digital spending has been significant too, of course, and it is estimated that Google alone – including YouTube and its other affiliate companies – has received more than $626m since May 31, 2018, from political ads.

Sourced from Variety