Political Ad Spend Could Top $10B in 2020


Politicians will spend record amounts of cash to get their message across in 2020.

According to the latest forecast from WPP PLC’s ad-buying department, political ad spending will reach $9.9 billion in 2020. That’s $1.2 billion more than what was spent in 2018, the year of the most recent midterm election. Industry experts are expecting an all-out media blitz and, if their projections prove accurate, political ad spending will break records in 2020.

Double-Digit Growth

Ad spending growth accelerated after the 2016 presidential election. Political ads accounted for roughly $6.3 billion in 2016, but 2020 forecasts predict they will increase by roughly 57% next year. The $3.6 billion increase is much higher than it was in comparable election cycles. 

Historically, ad spending tends to grow more moderately. Between the previous two presidential elections, advertising expenditures rose by $2 billion. Going back even further, 2012’s totals only grew by $1.1 billion over 2008. 

Market-Moving Forces

Political ad spending is growing at an unprecedented rate, but why? There’s no clear-cut answer, but there are several notable factors that could be contributing to the move higher.

The Rise of Social Media 

Facebook’s journey mirrors social media’s recent rise to mass adoption. Founded in 2004, the platform was only open to Harvard students originally, but it quickly exploded across college campuses all over the US. In 2008, it surpassed MySpace as the most visited site in the world. Facebook made its stock market debut at a $104 billion valuation in 2012. At the time, It was one of the most highly-valued IPOs ever.

Facebook’s meteoric rise coincides with the increased pace of political ad spending, but it’s only a piece of the puzzle. Instagram and other platforms are also attracting political ad dollars. Social media’s popularity growth could have contributed to the increase in political ad spending.

Digital Ad Growth

Digital advertising is more sophisticated than ever before. Ad sellers like Google offer incredible features that help advertisers get the most out of their budget. These days, advertisers can target their audience with an incredible degree of precision, and advanced analytics allow them to continually refine their audience for maximum effectiveness.

Traditional advertisements usually can’t offer advanced targeting features, so many organizations find they get their highest ROI from digital ads. It could be part of the reason that  digital ad spending, excluding political ads, grew at a 21% clip last year. 

Politicians are pumping cash into digital advertising too. In 2018, political ad spending accounted for 2% of U.S. digital ad spending. Experts expect political ad spending to increase to $2.8 billion in 2020 and comprise 2.2% of the total ad market.

What’s Next For Political Advertising

A controversy is brewing around this topic that could change the outlook for the industry. Certain groups are calling for social media platforms to ban political ads on their platforms. Twitter announced it would ban paid political ads on its platform and 2019. Facebook is under pressure to follow suit, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he won’t restrict free speech.  

Banning political ads from social media could change the outlook for the political ad industry. The issue has significant political undertones, as well. At this point, it’s unclear how things will play out, so stay tuned. 

Navigating The Political Ad Space

Navigating the political advertising space can be difficult, but the experts at Golden Age consulting can help. Golden Age’s advanced ad strategies can help you maximize your campaign’s reach and achieve your advertising goals. Contact them to get started now .