YouTube, campaign ads, and local TV

Below, David Johnson leaves a provocative comment on the impact of YouTube on local TV stations if and when political advertising migrates online:

there’s a big elephant in the room on viral video for politics. youtube could be for local broadcast what craigslist is for newspapers. most local broadcast stations desperately need political advertising to stay in the black. if the advertising pie doesn’t expand and dollars are shifted out of mainstream broadcast to online — as we’re seeing elsewhere already among major advertisers — this could have a serious impact on bottom lines at struggling affiliates.

Local affiliates are already facing a bleaker future than they’ll breath out loud because when the internet grows to become the dominant means of distribution, their value as distributors only shrinks. I hadn’t thought of political advertising as their Craigs List but I think he has a point. All political advertising won’t migrate online yet because the audience on broadcast is bigger and campaigns are inherently conservative. But there will be a point of no return.

(Crossposted from PrezVid)

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  • Political advertising leaving isn’t a steady everyday drain like Craigslist is to newspapers. Now if they lost automotive ads, that would be a direct comparison I would think.
    Either could create hurtsville though.

  • …and advertising people pay more attention to demographics and numbers than almost anyone else, excepting possibly pollsters. The handwriting isn’t on any WALL…it’s on a flatscreen MONITOR…

  • Hey, the upside to this is that less money will be needed by politicians for TV ads, leading, just maybe, to less corruption?


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  • Local news has certainly exacerbated its own dilemma by outsourcing its campaign coverage to its advertisers. They’ve stopped covering politics in inverse proportion to the amount of political ads bought during their telecasts.

    Maybe this will teach them to cover politics in a more meaningful, substantial way. Sorry to use the cliche, but “less cats-in-trees, please.”

  • Tobe

    Yes political “ads” and messages will migrate to YouTube and other webtubes as well. But the mega-dollars will stay on TV, cable and radio for at least one more election cycle. Why? Because political advertising has its greatest impact on low involvement voters, people who feel it is their civic duty to vote, or vote out of habit, but don’t follow politics or the campaign. They don’t look for information about the candidates (ie: hitting the candidate, party and activist websites or reading about politics or watching political stories on TV and cable). The reason political ads work is they find the voter. True, true ratings are down especially in local TV newscasts that are the primo spot to place political ads. But for now this is still the best way to reach these low interest voters who try to avoid politics as much as possible.

  • Ethan

    Hey Jeff,
    Remember the Iraq War? You know, that little thing you championed but has turned into a death sentence for thousands of Americans?
    What do you think about it now?
    You can erase this if you want–call me a troll, I don’t care if that’s the price for calling out moral cowardice–but you can’t erase the past.

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  • I would say the real upside is you wouldn’t be forced to watch the political ads… They drive me nuts. It doesn’t matter though – a complete shift to viral media channels isn’t in the near future.

    One reason campaigns should be weary of youtube and other viral channels is feedback. A good example is the video of “I pledge” where a good number of celebrities sounded off support for Obama. There was a great deal of criticism in the comment section.

    I’m sure that broadcasting sites like Hulu will make a very large push for political advertising.

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