Television: “The attack of the attack ads”

TV Attack Ads We Never See

Here in Alabama, a state which will go heavily for Bush, we never really see the ‘true campaign’ that is airing in ‘battleground states‘ or ‘swing states‘. These are the states (with much higher electoral college vote totals than lil’ ol’ Alabama) that are on the edge – leaning one way or the other.

Would the opportunity to see these ads elsewhere – at the frequency levels they’re being seen in battleground states – have an influence in the rest of the country? Are attack ads effective?

Are we, non-battleground state citizens, not “being treated, in a sense, to one of the most distinguishing features of a presidential race“?

And, what of the ‘business’ of politics? Who is making a fortune from this political season?

From the LATimes (registration required):

The attack of the attack ads

Watching TV in a state that’s up for grabs makes it clear that this presidential race is being narrowcast. Some 60% of Americans, including those in Los Angeles, live in a place where not a single presidential ad has been broadcast on local TV since March, according to the University of Wisconsin-based Wisconsin Advertising Project, which has been amassing a huge database tracking TV ads in the nation’s 210 markets.

The other roughly 40% are being bombarded every time they turn on the TV. Wisconsin, with its 11 electoral votes, is a case in point: Kerry and Bush ads aired in a continuous loop, squeezing local advertisers off the air and leaving viewers dizzy with attack and counterattack ads that change by the week, if not faster.

“They come in very last minute,” Jay Zollar, general manager at WLUK, said of the churn. “It’s difficult for us to plan how we sell our inventory.”

In Green Bay-Appleton, during the roughly two days I was there, campaign ads aired 382 times across the city’s five network-affiliated stations, according to Nielsen Monitor Plus and the Wisconsin Advertising Project. This, despite the lack of academic consensus on how much ads influence voters.

The other thing we never see? The enormous money being made by these stations airing the ads. Yes, they are being aired at ‘political rates’, but the revenue is still tremendous. See this article TV political ads cost everyone and see just how much they are making.

In Missouri, for example, politicians had

“expected to pay an average of $130 per point for television ads this season and now are finding they will pay about $200 per point for ads prior to the primary.

A point translates to 1 percent of television viewers in a given market. Media buyers for political campaigns generally aim for about 1,000 points of exposure in television ads per week. At that level, they expect most voters will see their political ads 10 times.

With the new local prices, a one-week buy for the candidates will jump from $130,000 to $200,000. Those figures also factor in the lower rates that television stations are required to provide candidates, according to Federal Communication Commission regulations.”