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Local advertisers long to reclaim airwaves

Much of the estimated $6 billion in campaign spending this election came from Super PACs who raised millions and then funneled that money into races. Did it pay off?

Swing state voters can proudly cast their ballots knowing that their votes may actually count in the presidential election. But the price of that privilege is an onslaught of political campaign ads, sometimes so heavy that political ads fill every slot of a commercial break, particularly on local television news broadcasts.

These ads have crowded out staple local advertisers, like car dealerships and furniture stores. And the high demand has sent prices soaring, meaning local businesses must pay huge premiums to advertise during peak campaign season. Many have sat it out, both because of the high cost of ad time and out of a desire not to be mixed in with political ads that may anger viewers.

Come Wednesday, those political ads evaporate, but that doesn’t mean thing are back to normal in broadcast advertising.

“Still the rates are gonna be a little higher than normal,” says Karen Ashworth, a media buyer at Virginia ad firm Barber Martin. “I don’t think that they’re gonna go down until January.”

Part of this is because of the holiday season, when ad rates typically rise. But mainly, there’s pent-up demand from advertisers who didn’t get on air during the race. Denise Goff, who works for Lewis Media Partners and places ads for Virginia clients, says several TV stations are booked up well after the votes are counted.

“The two weeks following the election, they are pretty wall-to-wall sold out,” she sighs.

Viewers may rejoice as the commercial torment ends, but advertisers craving broadcast exposure still face a post-election hangover.

Mark Garrison: Viewers tormented by endless campaign ads may feel like four-year-old Abigael Evans. She’s the tearful star of the YouTube video that racked up more than 4.5 million views last week.

Video: I’m tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney. That’s why you’re crying? Aw.

Her mom comforts her that the election’s over soon. But for local businesses, the pain continues. Karen Ashworth is a media buyer at Virginia ad firm Barber Martin.

Karen Ashworth: Still the rates are gonna be a little higher than normal. I don’t think that they’re gonna go down until January.

Part of this is the holiday season. But mainly, there’s pent-up demand from advertisers who didn’t get on air during the race. Denise Goff of Lewis Media Partners places ads for Virginia clients. She says several TV stations are booked up.

Denise Goff: The two weeks following the election, they are pretty wall-to-wall sold out.

YouTube star Abigael Evans may have dry eyes by Wednesday, but local advertisers will still have plenty to weep about.

About the author

Mark Garrison is a reporter and substitute host for Marketplace, based in New York.

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