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U.S. presidential election 2016 - ad spend

Of the 10.2 billion U.S. dollars that sources projected will be spent in the 2016 election season, by far the most popular destination for these funds was broadcast television, which was expected to attract 6.06 billion U.S. dollars in advertising spending. This is five and a half times more than the next most popular advertising channel, cable television, and over seven times more than the spend on radio or newspaper advertising.

Political advertising spending

The amounts spent on political advertising have been increasing each election season, with around 400 million more spent in 2012 than 2016, and total spending for the 2018 election season predicted to be higher again than in 2016 (especially for broadcast television and online/digital advertising)1. While most attention is paid to political advertising spending at the federal level, which includes both presidential and congressional elections, a significant amount is also spent on advertising for local and state elections.

Online political advertising

The role played by online and digital advertising in U.S. elections has been growing in importance since the mid-2000s. Many commentators have credited President Obama’s use of social media as a key factor in his 2008 electoral victory, after which having a strong online presence was an essential component of all election advertising strategies. This growing importance is clearly evidenced by the advertising expenditure figures, with around 128 times more money predicted to be spent online on the 2020 presidential election season than in 2008.

Political advertising spending in the United States in the 2016 election season, by medium

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Release date

April 2016


United States

Survey time period

April 2016

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Statistics on "Spending and Advertising in the U.S. Presidential Election 2016"

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