Introducing AdImpact’s 2022 Midterm Projections Spending Report
In July 2021, AdImpact projected that the 2022 political cycle would see $8.9B in political ad spending. This represented a historic sum for a midterm year. One that would have nearly matched 2020 – the highest spending political advertising cycle of all time – in a midterm year. A year later we have revised our projections upwards, to $9.7B. Through the end of July 2022, this election cycle is outpacing 2020 by nearly $700 million dollars.
While there is no Presidential race at the top of the ticket drawing headlines, every other race type (House, Senate, Governor, Downballot and Issue spending) has experienced dramatic growth from 2020. Fundraising has continued to break records as control of both chambers of Congress hangs in the balance, and state and local races continue to increase in prominence. A mark of the historic electoral spending is the year-to-year growth we have seen. From August 1st of 2018 to August 1st of 2022, we have already seen an increase of 203% in spending, pointing towards the increase in overall political media advertising for this election cycle.
Download our report to see exactly where and how spending increases will occur this year.
Background on the 2022 Midterm Election Cycle
Although 2022 is not a Presidential year, there are still many high-profile and competitive races fueling the historic levels of political ad spending that will carry through to November. There are 38 Gubernatorial races slated for the 2021-2022 political cycle, two of which took place in 2021, and 36 that will occur this November. This is a significant increase over the 14 that took place in the 2019-2020 election cycle. There will be 35 Senate elections held in 2022 versus the 33 that took place in 2020. For the House, redistricting in some states shifted the competitive balance of many seats. In 2020 we saw historic amounts of political ad spending in House races and expect that precedent to be the new norm. Lastly, we have seen Downballot, non-federal races contribute in higher proportion to overall spending than they have in past cycles. So far, we have recorded $1.85B in Downballot spending and expect much more spending between now and the general election. Downballot and Issue spending this year is already pacing ahead of political advertising spending from 2020, which reached $1.95B by the end of the cycle. One California ballot issue, California Prop 27, Mobile Sports Betting and Revenue for Homelessness, has already seen $113M placed for this election cycle.
Political Media Advertising Background
Broadcast remains the main vehicle used in political advertising, but other alternatives are beginning to make strides in popularity with each political cycle. Spending on digital advertising became a prominent component of many campaigns’ advertising strategies for the 2020 election cycle. Spending on platforms such as Facebook and Google was utilized by campaigns and issue groups to reach a more defined audience and as a major fundraising tool. In 2020, we recorded $1.73B spent on digital, accounting for 19% of electoral spending in the 2020 cycle across all media types.
To date in 2022, we have seen approximately $300M spent on Connected Television (CTV), or 13% of the overall political spending landscape. As voters “cut the cord” reaching them regardless of consumption habits has become a main goal of advertisers. We have seen rapid adoption of CTV advertising in the political advertising space. This is the first year CTV expenditure tracking has been widely available, but we expect to see these expenditures grow over the upcoming years. Pacing figures indicate that our initial estimates of $1.4B spent on CTV for the 2022 cycle look to be quite accurate.
Additionally, the availability of cash on hand for the midterm elections has already seen an increase from 2020. Groups and candidates have had easier access to money from donors due to the influx of advertising dollars allocated to Google and Facebook, as well as the proliferation of easy-to-use fundraising platforms such as ActBlue and WinRed. With the ease of online fundraising, campaigns have begun electoral spending far earlier than in past cycles. With each election cycle lengthening, we may have reached the point of perpetual campaigning and political advertising spending.
Political Spending Projections Methodology
We set out to build our projections from the ground up. Rather than dividing the topline numbers from previous years, we built a model to project spending at the individual race level and then rolled these numbers up to reach our topline conclusions. Spending levels in a race correlate strongly with the competitiveness of a seat, so we based our 2022 estimates on each seat’s previous spending levels and Cook Political Report’s race ratings (Lean D, Toss Up, Lean R, etc.).
Historic spending levels come from our comprehensive database of political media expenditures. This baseline number is then adjusted by factors such as the price of a media market and candidate cash-on-hand reports. On average, a race in a historically expensive cost-per-spot (CPS) market like Los Angeles, CA will see far more spending than a race in a lower CPS market, such as Norfolk, VA, since it costs significantly more to reach the same relative audience levels.
AdImpact provides a multichannel view of the TV ad intelligence universe through real- time monitoring of linear television, local cable, and CTV at the DMA, Zip Code, and Household levels, allowing for deeply enriched data analysis.
AdImpact collects, analyzes, and reports on more than 21 billion TV ad impressions daily, in real-time, involving more than 60,000 brands and advertisers. Coverage includes all national broadcast networks, 1,100 local broadcasters, and more than 180 cable TV networks across all 210 Nielsen DMAs. AdImpact is the only media intelligence company with zip code level ad detection, with a dataset that contains more than 6,500 advertisers active in 5 DMAs or less. AdImpact also tracks digital media advertising, including more than 36,500 digital advertisers and publishers.
In the political sphere, AdImpact collects electoral ad spending and occurrences from the federal to the local level, leveraging the data to create user-friendly analytics for clients. AdImpact also collects rate-level data to provide deep insights and build rate forecasts to help buyers and media companies alike. AdImpact’s political data is trusted by a full spectrum of political experts: from presidential campaigns to top-tier news outlets.