TV Advertising Group to Politicians: Don’t Forget About Us!

With digital campaigns coming into their own during the 2016 election season, the Television Bureau of Advertising is trying to make the case that local TV is still where it's at when it comes to messaging.

In an era when political advertising is all about driving viral eyeballs, the television industry—which knows a thing or two about eyeballs, viral or not—thinks campaigns might be missing the big picture.

That big picture can be found on small screens around the country, says the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), which this week launched a public relations campaign highlighting the value of TV political ads—something that drove $3 billion in revenue for local TV stations during the 2012 elections.

The We Get Voters campaign points out some of the strengths of local TV in comparison to its biggest competitors: cable news and the internet. Local news tends to be trusted by audiences more than cable news, according to TVB research, and, unlike digital advertising, automated views aren’t a problem for television ads, which tend to be watched by real people.

“TV’s ability to reach a broad spectrum of voters and drive conversations inside and outside the household is indispensable,” TVB President and CEO Steve Lanzano wrote in a recent op-ed for Campaigns & Elections. “That recognition is a valuable advantage for candidates hoping to remain relevant during a long election cycle. Campaign ads are not effective if the right people don’t see or hear them, and none can compete with local broadcast TV in terms of voter reach and reference.”

The International Business Times, which was the first to reveal the campaign this week, described the effort as an attempt to protect the TV industry’s success in political advertising from up-and-coming platforms. With $1 billion expected to be spent on digital ads in the 2016 race, according to research by Borrell Associates, the money that might have gone to TV campaigns could fade away.

TVB wants to ensure that local television keeps its place at the top of the pecking order.

“We’re not saying you shouldn’t do digital and any of those other things,” Lanzano told the Associated Press. “We’re saying you have to make sure to do broadcast television, and do it first.”

That said, the campaign does have a robust digital marketing element, including YouTube-based ads and a variety of research materials—such as this guide to TV markets [PDF] based on the way that voters in each region are expected to vote—that could help political campaigns better target their TV audiences.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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