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Yesterday while I was driving home, NPR announced that over $550m has been raised in campaign contributions this year. They also noted that the overwhelming majority of this money will be spent for media ads
Is there any analysis or projections available on the impact of this potentail revenue stream?

I haven't seen any, but I used to run some of the stations which are now Viacom stations, and Presidential election seasons were always berry berry good ones. Sometimes that was because we were in a "contested" state, so we got a ton of that local market money, but it was mostly because Presidential seasons bring out the dough, and even the local contestants spend like crazy.

It is a double edged sword, however, since there are laws which mandate that stations sell the "political time" at the lowest rate which they have sold to any advertiser during the preceding several month period (it's a bit more complex than that, but that'll do for an explanation), so you're "forced" to sell your inventory during a "high demand" period for a "low demand" price.

That said, a good traffic department can usually find a way to squeeze it all in, and "more demand" is always good, particularly when everybody is running at full-tilt. Some of the tricks include front-loading other schedules (which the advertiser might have asked to run, say, from September 1 through Nov 30) to "get that inventory out of the way", by increasing the spot loads temporarily, "forgetting" to run some of the low-rent network spots until (a lot) later, and particularly, by rejiggering spots from high-demand periods into low-demand ones (out of Friday and into Monday, or even Sunday, for instance) for clients which don't watch these things that closely.

I expect this year to be particularly bonanzified, what with the Olympics taking center state and chewing up an even greater amount of inventory and programming on NBC. That will help them, but those advertising commitments were made months (years!) ago, and were sold even locally months ago. That means traditional "spot" advertisers have to go to other places, and that makes everybody "full up" and drives price for the remaining non-political inventory.

Finally, I'll note that "political advertising" falls mainly to radio and television, with some to billboard. Only a small amount ends up in newspaper and magazine, and if you see where I'm going here, Viacom is particularly strong where it counts, and not where it doesn't. I wouldn't expect a lot of it to fall to "on-line", frankly, because nobody knows how to do it there yet. Most political spending is done on a "local market" basis rather than "network", and Viacom is particularly strong in radio that way, and has a decent cluster of major market television stations as well. (As I say, however, it depends "where" the stations are; states which Bush knows he's going to lose and Gore knows he's going to win - or vice versa - don't get much dough. Typically, however, the only states which count are those with big populations and therefore big electoral vote slates, such as New York, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, etc. which by happy coincidence are the states where the major media tend to be grouped.)

I'll go out on a limb and say that the Viacom station managers, who are rewarded on both "revenue increase" and "profit" have the gates wide-open and in most cases they will have a record breaking October, with some spillover into November, as "delayed" ads are made-good. In fact, I think the same will be true for NBC and ABC as well.

I can't imagine it being otherwise.
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