March 17, 2023
By Ethan Mort
Even in an off year, issue groups purchase ads highlighting specific issues they want to bring attention to, ranging from healthcare and clean energy advocacy to specific legislation and President Biden’s agenda. So far this year, we have seen $76M in issue spending nationwide. Healthcare, clean energy, fundraising, the economy, and gun control are the five national issues that have seen the most ad spending this year.
From January 1, 2022 to March 17, 2022, we recorded $110M on issues nationwide. Fundraising, healthcare, Biden’s Economic Recovery Plan, and internet regulation were the issues that saw the most spending in early 2022. By the end of the year, issue spending totaled $1.9B. For an off-year comparison, the same timespan in 2021 saw $37M, and the whole year recorded $645M on issues.
In 2023 thus far, the five highest spending issue advertisers are Better Medicare Alliance, American Opportunity, American Petroleum Institute, Accountable Florida, and PBM Accountability Project.
Better Medicare Alliance has spent $12.8M on ads urging congress not to cut Medicare Advantage. They are mostly focusing on urban markets such as Washington DC, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, D.C. 40% ($4.5M) of all Better Medicare Alliance has been spent in the DC market. American Opportunity has spent $2.9M across New York markets on ads touting Governor Hochul’s new budget. American Petroleum Institute has spent $2.6M on ads highlighting advancements they’ve made in producing oil and natural gasses in a more environmentally friendly way. Accountable Florida has spent $2.4M on ads across Florida’s markets urging Floridians to get their representative to vote no on FL HB-837. PBM Accountability Project has spent $2.3M across DC, Cedar Rapids, Portland (OR), Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, and some rural markets on ads urging congress to hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable.
With not many elections occurring around February, groups spending on issues took the spotlight during the Super Bowl. The Dawn Project spent $365K on a Super Bowl spot in the Washington DC and Austin markets. Better Medicare Alliance spent $200K on an ad airing in the Washington DC market. Power to the Patients spent $210K on a 60s ad that aired in Washington DC.
Issue Spending Top Markets + Media Types
The market that has seen the most issue spending so far in 2023 is Washington DC, totalling $15.4M. The market with the second most issue spending is New York with $4.5M. Thirty-seven percent of all issue spending so far in 2023 that can be tracked to a market has been localized within the DC market.
Breaking down 2023 issue spending so far reveals that cable has seen the most spending behind it, at $26M. Then broadcast with $22M, digital with $21M, CTV with $4M, and radio with $3M
If you're interested in reading more about 2022's issue spending, check out our 2022 ballot initiative blog.