2024 Forecast: It’s Raining Political Ads
Political ad spending continues to skyrocket, poised to hit a staggering $10.2 billion in ad expenditures in 2024, compared to $9 billion in 2020 and $2.6 billion in 2016, more than tripling since 2016. As reported by the LA Times, this surge can be attributed to multiple factors coming together to create the perfect environment for growth, including a larger array of ways to reach voters, a substantial uptick in down-ballot race expenditures, and campaigns having more to spend.
The industry has changed a lot since the days when campaign advertising primarily consisted of securing airtime on local television channels, and limited ad spots effectively limited how much a campaign could spend. With new ways to reach voters emerging since then, those limits declined, and ad expenditures surged. While broadcast and cable still receive the largest share of the pie, digital and streaming have become essential, providing campaigns with more precise targeting and the ability to reach the growing number of individuals who have cut the cord.
Another pivotal factor in this rise is the increased investment in down-ballot races, particularly ballot initiatives. These initiatives have helped California emerge as a leader in political ad expenditures despite its longstanding uncompetitive landscape for Republican presidential candidates. The trend of big-dollar initiatives isn’t limited to California and is gaining momentum in other states as well.
Last but certainly not least, one of the most significant contributors to this increase is voters. Over the past 14 years, small donors grew from a mere 50,000 to a substantial group of 12 million, playing an instrumental role in increased campaign expenditures.
Political advertisers are well-acquainted with the ever-evolving nature of each electoral cycle and the unique trends they present, whether it was the increase in mail-in ballots due to the pandemic or the notably early start in advertising for the 2024 presidential race. We will be on the edge of our seats to see which trends sustain and what newer patterns emerge.