Wednesday, January 04, 2012

US Election: Iowa Caucus Highlights Political Billboards

SOURCE Outdoor Advertising Association of America

The Iowa Caucuses showcased the growing trend in political advertising to reach voters outside their homes, including through the use of new high-tech digital billboards.

Supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul posted ads on digital billboards in high-traffic areas in Des Moines, IA, prior to the January 3 caucuses.

"This billboard project is the perfect example of a Ron Paul grassroots supporter taking the bull by the horns and following through on a smart, fresh idea," said Gary Franchi, chairman of pro-Paul Revolution PAC.

The Ron Paul digital billboards have lit up blogs, and now supporters are raising money to expand the GOP presidential candidate's reach by using digital billboards in other states.

Outdoor ads were also used leading into the caucuses. This summer conservative organization Citizens United posted billboards in Des Moines touting its film about candidate Michele Bachmann.

Nationwide, political spending on out of home advertising is expected to increase significantly this election cycle, said Stephen Freitas, chief marketing officer of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA).

"We have seen consistent growth in political ad spending in each of the last three presidential election cycles," said Freitas. "Political advertising has broken into the top 10 spending categories each time."

Political groups and candidates are drawn to outdoor advertising because voters typically spend on average 11 hours a day outside their homes exposed to out of home advertising messages. Plus, billboard campaigns often earn additional media.

Local, state, and national candidates have long used signs of all sorts, including billboards. Digital billboards give political buyers two extra features they crave: speed of posting and the ability to change copy quickly without production costs.

For example, in the hotly contested 2010 US Senate primary in Kansas, winning candidate Jerry Moran posted pre-primary digital billboard ads in Wichita, the home base of his primary opponent.