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  • Writer's pictureChris Moore

Political Advertising: A Simple Matter of LUC!

Billboard with Political Advertising on it

2024 is going to be a very long year for advertising!

January 15, 2024, the Iowa caucuses, was the start of the festivities, or the nightmare, depending on your viewpoint for navigating 2024 Political advertising windows. The Iowa caucuses kicked-off the National caucus/primary schedule.

  • Political Windows will open and close, by state, across the country for the next eight months - Delaware and Rhode Island congressional primaries will wrap up the federal primary/caucus schedule on September 10, 2024

  • The National presidential and congressional elections are scheduled for November 5, 2024.

  • The political window for the November elections will open September 5, 2024, and close on November 10, 2024.

  • Primary/caucus schedules are determined strictly by state.

    • 8 States and 4 US territories schedule democrat and republican primaries/caucuses on different dates (double the fun)

    • 30 States hold presidential and congressional primaries/caucuses on different dates.

    • For the full schedule of 2024 dates click here. 

The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 established the 45-day period prior to a primary or caucus, or the 60-day period prior to a general or run-off election. “Broadcast stations, cable systems, and DBS providers must offer candidates the lowest rate for the same class and amount of time for the same period that they offer their most-favored advertisers during the 45 days prior to primary elections and 60 days prior to general elections.” Political candidates are entitled to a Lowest Unit Charge (LUC), more commonly referred to as LUR – lowest unit rate. Yes, the act was passed by Congress, at least 218 members of the House of Representatives and 51 US Senators, then signed by the President (it’s not difficult to understand - a law written and passed by lawmakers that benefits….themselves.)

2024 Political spending is estimated in excess of $10 billion dollars, with some coming in as high as $12 billion.

AdImpact, a firm that tracks political ad spending, projects that campaigns and outside groups will spend $2.7 billion on ads in the presidential election alone, followed by $2.1 billion on the Senate, $1.7 billion on the House, $361 million on gubernatorial elections and $3.3 billion on other elections. (Some estimates put the cost of the presidential election at over $4 billion). AdImpact is also predicting a 27% increase in presidential primary spending between 2020 and 2024. The group also predicts a 17% increase in general election presidential ad spending to $2.7 billion, with more than three-quarters of the projected spending concentrated in seven familiar swing states: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada and Wisconsin.

If you do the math on the presidential general election in swing states only, using the $2.7 billion estimate, approximately $2.025 billion will be spent on a combined approximate voting age population of 47.5 million possible voters, or $42.63 per potential voter. Assuming the 2020 voter turnout holds, the 2020 presidential election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens 18 years and older voting in the election, that would equate to an actual $63.82 in presidential ad spend for each swing states vote cast.

What does this mean for advertisers and agencies?

  1. Know your advertising market’s political windows and avoid them whenever possible, particularly swing states.

  2. Broadcast television will still receive the largest share of the money in 2024, AdImpact projects — about half the total. Use other mediums as much as possible to maintain budget efficiency and avoid preempts.

  3. Expect increased costs, especially for broadcast TV. Why would a station hold rates in a potential sell-out. Would you?

  4. 34% of political ads were negative in 2020. If those percentages hold true, or increase, the ads may have more people tuning out than tuning in.

  5. Don’t look for added value, if they offer it to anyone, they have to offer it to the politicians.

  6. Expect tight inventory post general election. Make goods from preempts in political may max out station inventory after the political windows close through year end.



About A3 Media

A3 transforms media from an expense into a smart investment. Since 1997, we have successfully helped regional businesses launch new products, expand into new markets and increase sales through media plans that make every dollar spent do more. Our clients include brands such as Yuengling and Ashley Furniture. For more information about how A3 Media can help your digital marketing efforts, please call A3 Media at (610) 631-5500.

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