Ad Agencies Say Clients Stalling On Media Buys Until After The Election

The onslaught of political advertising has left many non-political media buyers deciding to take a back seat until after the election, finds STRATA in the latest installment of its quarterly survey of leading advertising agencies. 47% of non-political ad buyers polled said their clients are waiting until after the election to advertise so as to avoid competing with political ad buys. That’s a sea change from Q2, when just 18% of non-political media buyers said the same.

STRATA suggests this means that media buyers are becoming increasingly concerned about costs, yet lack of available inventory is another challenge. In fact, according to data reported by Adweek, political ad spending on local TV had already topped the $1 billion mark by the end of September, and another $688 million had been spent in October by the 21st alone.

The STRATA survey finds that TV remains the advertising medium of choice, which is not a surprise given its tremendous influence on viewers. Just 15% of non-political ad buyers said they would shift focus to another medium to avoid competing with political TV ad buys, preferring instead just to wait it out.

For Non-Political Advertisers, The Outlook Isn’t So Bright

Although more than one-third of political advertisers are basking in what they say is greater ad spending this election season than the last (in 2008), for others, the outlook isn’t quite so sunny. Indeed, just 35% of agencies polled believe their business will be better in the second half of this year, while 19% expect it to be worse. That’s a significant rise from the Q2 survey, which found just 7% forecasting bleaker conditions in H2.

That sentiment carries over to next year, too. Close to one-third of agencies don’t see their businesses recovering to a strong growth period until after 2013.

Other Findings:

  • Only 45% of respondents saw their businesses increasing in Q3 compared to the previous year. That’s the lowest percentage since Q3 2010.
  • More than 40% of media buyers said their biggest challenge was attracting new clients. Recent survey results from RSW/US suggest that for these agencies, referrals and networking will be far more effective than social media in drumming up new business.