For the past 30 years, I’ve heard agency media buyers tell clients their schedule did not deliver the projected audience “due to political." This assertion is completely baseless, and one that is devoid of fact-based critical thinking.
To set the record straight, political advertising impacts demand, not audience.
To be sure, the impact of political advertising is massive. MediaPostreported in April 2018 that total political ad spend this year will approach $9 billion and that TV will represent over half ($4.5 billion) of that total.
There is no question that adding that much demand for a limited amount of inventory will have demonstrable repercussions on availability of ad time – which will vary by market, station and daypart.
The impact on demand influences not only inventory availability in some dayparts (i.e. early/late news), but it has cost implications. It is a simple equation: fixed supply with dramatically increased demand (from political campaigns and action committees) will drive up media pricing.