Politicians learn to use cheap cable TV ads
The following are excerpts from an article by Ben in today's ajc:
An environmental group trying to block Wayne Hill's political comeback has bought 50 television ads attacking the former Gwinnett County Commission chairman.
The price: $882.
The ads, which debuted Wednesday on the 24-hour Fox News channel and five other networks, are all running on cable TV.
A decade ago, the political TV ad market belonged almost entirely to deep-pocketed statewide and federal campaigns that could afford the high cost of producing ads and buying time to air them.
But the growth of metro Atlanta's cable television market, where advertising rates are a fraction of those charged by Atlanta's major broadcast stations, has given local suburban candidates access to the most far-reaching medium American politics has ever known.
The list of local candidates running TV ads on cable includes [various candidates] according to records of ad purchases that television providers are required under federal law to make public.
"The low, low cost, in conjunction with the fact that you can now do professional quality editing of footage on a computer, has put television advertising within the reach of candidates who previously couldn't afford it," said Todd Rehm, a political consultant for the anti-Hill group, Georgia Conservation Voters Fund.
The ad is running on CNBC, the Weather Channel, the History Channel and the home and garden network HGTV, as well as on Fox News channel on cable TV, according to public records of the ad purchases. Each 30-second spot ranges from $9 on HGTV to $42 for a prime time broadcast on Fox News.
By comparison, prime time spots on WAGA, the local affiliate of Fox Broadcast Network, can cost up to $3,500 apiece depending on the program during which they are broadcast, according to public records kept by the station.
Cable advertising can be targeted to specific areas of metro Atlanta. Comcast, the largest cable service provider in metro Atlanta, has the region divided into zones, which run separate packages of television ads throughout he day. Roswell and Smyrna have their own zones. DeKalb County has two. Gwinnett has three labeled East, West and Northeast Gwinnett.
The variety of specialty cable networks enables campaigns to target specific voters.
"If your message is about the environment, you can buy ads on the Discovery Channel. If you're trying to reach older veterans who served in World War II, there's the History Channel," said Chris Werner, president of LUC Media Inc., a Marietta-based company that purchases advertising time for political campaigns across the country.
The disadvantages: Unlike broadcast stations, political campaigns buying cable TV time cannot choose the times their ads will run, such as during the evening news or during a popular TV show. Comcast says it sells ad time in four multihour blocks, and the ads may run at any point in that block of time.
But the overall appeal of cable television is growing, and advertisers are recognizing that trend, said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting. "At the end of the day," Wakshlag said, "you can walk away from any broadcast station and spend money on ad-supported cable. And you'll have the same reach and something left in your pocket."