Voters Say Political Ads Least Annoying When in Local Newspapers

February 17, 2012

naa-voters-politicalad-attitudes-feb-2012.jpgPolitical candidate ads appearing in local newspapers are rated as annoying by just 18% of registered voters, while ads appearing on local TV are seen as annoying by 54%, according to results of a survey released in February 2012 by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). Network TV (50%), cable TV (43%), and radio (39%) ads are also rated annoying by a significant proportion of registered voters, though political ads on the internet (27%) garner the frustration of far fewer.

Younger Voters Less Annoyed

Younger voters display a lesser propensity to be annoyed by political ads in a variety of broadcast media. 49% of 18-34-year-olds say they find candidate ads on local TV to be annoying, compared to 58% of those aged 35-44 and 56% of those over 65. Voters over 65 are also 30% more likely to be annoyed by network TV ads than 18-34-year-olds (57% vs. 44%), 20% more likely to find internet ads annoying (30% vs. 25%), and 47% more likely to be annoyed by local newspaper ads (22% vs. 15%).

Interestingly, though, 18-34-year-olds are as likely as their counterparts over 65 to be annoyed by candidate ads on cable TV (both at 47%), and 37% more likely to be annoyed by radio ads (44% vs. 32%).

Local Papers Most Reliable for Civic Info

Meanwhile, local newspapers top the list of sources for accurate, in-depth coverage of political or civic issues with an impact on voters’ specific locality, rated reliable by 57% of respondents. Local TV stations (55%) closely follow, ahead of local radio stations (43%) and local websites (39%). Just 14% believe social media websites to be reliable sources of accurate and in-depth information about local civic issues.

When asked about the reliability of websites for the same kind of accurate information on local political or civic issues, voters chose their local newspaper’s website (51%) as the most reliable, edging their local TV station’s website (50%). There was a significant drop-off to the local radio station’s website (36%), followed by other types of websites (23%), and a candidate’s website (22%). Once again, social media websites were at the bottom of the list, rated reliable by just 14%.

These findings mirror recent Pew survey results that looked at presidential campaign information sources for the general public, and found that social networks only play a limited role as campaign information sources. In fact, of all online destinations, websites and applications of print, TV, and radio organizations topped the list, regularly used by 20% and sometimes used by 32%. By comparison, just 20% said they regularly (6%) or sometimes (14%) get campaign information from Facebook, and only 5% said the same about Twitter.

Social Media Sites More Popular on Mobile

naa-mobile-campaignnews-sources-feb-2012.jpgData from the NAA’s “Voters & Newspaper Media 2012” indicates that 1 in 4 registered voters plan to use a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) to check for news about campaigns and elections. Among those voters, newspaper sources and national TV sources are the most appealing (58%), though social media websites (41%) beat out local TV sources (33%), other kinds of sources (27%), and radio sources (20%).

These preferences may be related to the demographics of those seeking out mobile news: 48% of the 18-34 group plan to use their mobile devices for campaign and election news, compared to 18% of 45-54-year-olds, 16% of 55-64-year-olds, and 7% of those aged over 65. And among 18-34-year-olds who plan to use mobile devices to check for campaign news, 53% will turn to social media websites, compared to 55% for national TV sources and 62% for newspaper sources.

However, social media is not seen a preferred source for local news, even among the younger crowd: the report also found that social media websites ranked last for local civic information among 18-34-year-olds, with just 22% saying the sites provided reliably accurate, in-depth information.

Other Findings:

  • Voters appear to connect with newspaper media: 84% of respondents who voted in the 2008 presidential election, 86% of those who voted in their last statewide election, and 86% of those who voted in their last local election read newspapers in print or online at least once a week.
  • 65% of registered voters over 65 said they read print newspapers regularly, compared to 44% of registered voters aged 35-44. When combined with newspaper websites, the gap narrowed significantly: 84% of those over 65 read newspapers in print or online at least once a week, compared to 79% of voters aged 18-34.
  • Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all share similar levels of contact with newspaper media, both in print and online.

About the Data: The NAA survey was conducted by Moore Information from January 17-18, 2012 among 2,000 registered voters. 59% of respondents were aged over 54, 22% were aged 35-44, and 18% were aged 18-34.

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