Florida also has several competitive congressional races and at least two very tight state Senate races. The result is “the largest election in history as far as television is concerned,’’ said Pat Roberts, president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters.
“If you’re not a candidate, I don’t believe you’ll be buying space between now and Election Day,’’ he said.
The law requires that television stations allow ads for federal candidates to pre-empt any other advertisers, including third-party groups. Next in priority are state and local candidates.
Candidates are required to pay no more than the lowest price paid by any advertiser in the last 90 days but stations find ways to raises their prices nonetheless, Kolodny said.
Every television station in the state is likely to have staff on hand to help accommodate last minute purchases, Roberts said, but in some cases “if they don’t have their buy in by now, it’s going to be difficult.”
“We are saturated, but we do have inventory,’’ said Robert W. Leidner, general manager at WSVN in Miami.
Because Orlando is “ground zero for the presidential campaign, it is “probably the most in-demand market in the nation,’’ Roberts said.
SMG Delta, a Republican ad-buying firm, reports a higher number than Kantar, estimating that there has been $174 million in television advertising since the primary. Neither group releases the sources of its data although SMG Delta’s data includes radio advertising in addition to television.
Meanwhile, as Florida viewers get bombarded with political ads, television watchers in non-battleground states such as New York and California, Pennsylvania and Texas, are experiencing a lighter stream than in previous years.
“For people living in seven swing states, you’re getting a barrage and for everybody else, they’re barely aware that the election is considered competitive,’’ Kolodney said.
She attributed the shift to refined advertising models, first used by the 2008 Obama campaign, that allows them to better target their voters. Rather than spending ad dollars to buy network ads that reached a broad, national audience, the campaigns focus their ad buys on local markets in states where marginal votes matter and hand-pick their shows.
Obama’s cable television ads, for example, are more likely to run on Lifetime and Black Entertainment Television, while Romney’s cable television ads are targeted to the Country Music Television, the History Channel and fix-it shows, she said.
For the politics-weary viewers, Kolodny notes, the end is in sight. “On Nov. 7th, all the political ads will be done and the feel-good Febreeze and kitty ads will return,’’ she said.