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Abbott buy first glimpse of fall political spending

Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for Texas Governor, has reserved $10 million in TV air time in the state’s four largest markets this October, the last full month before the Nov. 4 general election.

It’s the first chunk of an expected $40 million Abbott is expected to spend in his battle against State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and was characterized as a “base buy” from which the campaign will build upon between now and Election Day.

As reported by the Houston Chronicle, Abbott’s ad team is planning spot buys in smaller markets throughout the state.

The campaign also made a small World Cup-related ad buy on some Spanish language stations in June playing up the Hispanic heritage of Abbott’s wife.

For her part, Davis is rumored to have raised up to $30 million for her campaign, though no word of media buys has leaked out yet, and the next fundraising reporting deadline is still a couple weeks away.  Some of that money, if real, may have gone to Battleground Texas, a dark-money group supporting Davis only.

State Senators Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, are expected to spend heavily in their fight for the Lt. Governor’s office. 

Add to that the bevy of other statewide offices up for grabs and this year’s general election is expected to generate more ad spending than the state has seen over the past several elections. 

But with so many changes in political advertising taking hold since Gov. Rick Perry first clutched his death grip on the Governor’s Mansion (finally released for his anticipated 2016 re-run for the White House), it’s unclear how the advertising landscape will play out.

With Van de Putte, a Hispanic businesswoman who speaks Spanish fluently, and the growing Hispanic population, Spanish-language stations can make their best case ever for campaign ad buys.

But high mobile device engagement levels among Hispanics could drive some, even much, of the potential ad buys into stations’ mobile advertising platforms and away from on-air.

The demand for airtime from statewide and congressional races also could drive campaigns to focus more on Radio than TV, especially considering that congressional gerrymandering has rendered all but one of the races non-competitive.

Broadcasters in San Antonio and Southwest Texas will see dollars flowing to incumbent Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, and challenger Will Hurd in their battle for the CD-23 seat, the one district in Texas that routinely flips partisan representation.

The online world, advertising guru Gordon Borrell reported this week in his 2014 and Beyond Political Advertising Outlook, is severely lagging other platforms when it comes to political and is projected to garner less than eight percent of all U.S. political advertising this year.

Spending on online ads is definitely growing and poised to surge in the next two years, Borrell reported, but even with an anticipated threefold jump between 2012 and 2016, digital media still will rake in less than $1 billion.                                                                                                                                                   

“Most of the activity, it seems, is by digital marketing managers working within the campaigns, managing social media and email communications directly with the electorate,” said the report which was principally authored by Kip Cassino.

The report noted that broadcast TV is continuing to lose out to Pay-TV “with its ability to target specific demographic population segments” and comparatively cheaper rates, and that online music playlists like Pandora are using their user tracking data to craft ad strategies for political campaigns.

But even with the extraordinary dynamism in today’s media marketplace, the Borrell report projects that the broadcast industry will lay claim to more than 60 percent of U.S. political ad spending in 2016.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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