Newspapers’ local pull,
voting readers stand as
strong draw for political ads
and Alexander Martin
There is advertising
money waiting to be harvested, and it’s in newspapers’ own
backyards, an advertising expert advised a workshop audience at the
New England Newspaper and Press Association winter convention.
“Political advertising is a huge opportunity,” John Kimball
told about 30 people Saturday, Feb. 20, at the workshop on how newspapers
can maximize political advertising revenue despite fierce competition
with digital media.
“Our readers are voters,” he said.
Kimball founded The John Kimball Group in Leesburg, Va., in 2009 after
employment in the advertising department of the Detroit Free Press and
as chief marketing officer for the Newspaper Association of America.
The John Kimball Group helps newspapers find local political campaigns
to advertise for and provides newspapers with information on SuperPACs
and other political groups.
a ton of good news for all of us in the business,” he said. “Newspapers
are a critical piece of the information flow for people who actually
go to vote.”
Kimball stressed the importance of political advertising in a physical
newspaper, pointing to a 2012 study that said 84 percent of Democratic,
83 percent of Republican and 81 percent of independent voters are regular
“Digital is, not by itself, going to generate success for a candidate,”
he said. “When it comes time to deal with ‘Am I going to
win on Tuesday?’, how can you ignore 80 percent of the people who
are coming to the polls?”
While social media might have the potential to reach a bigger audience,
candidates pay attention to what voters – and those who contribute
to political campaigns – use as their information source, he said.
Ads in local newspapers and on their websites are rated the most reliable
and accurate among voters, compared to television and social media advertising,
according to a 2012 survey of 2,000 registered voters done for the Newspaper
Association of America.
And nearly three-quarters
of all political activity is going to be at the county and local level,
according to Williamsburg, Va.-based Borrell Associates Inc., which
focuses on media industry analysis.
The latest research from Borrell estimates that total political ad spending
in 2016 will reach $11 billion, and that newspapers will receive 10
percent of that total.
“You will not get into the $11-billion party unless you ask for
invitations,” Kimball said.
Kimball noted that, compared to national newspapers, local newspapers
play a bigger role in setting the political agenda and altering opinions
in their markets. According to a study by the National Conference of
State Legislatures in 2015, almost 75 percent of political activity
in 2016 will happen at the county and local level.
“This is the story that must be told again and again to implant
the idea into the minds of advertisers,” Kimball said.
He also discussed how the local newspapers stand to earn significant
amounts of money from political advertising.
“The big money happens in the races in your own backyard,”
Kimball said. “Politics is a local business.”
In creating political ads, the most important thing for the newspapers
to do is create easy-to-understand advertising packages and get in contact
with local politicians, Kimball said.
“You show up and say, ‘We’ve got the solutions for
you’,” Kimball said. “It’s not tremendously
sexy, but it’s exactly what the candidates need.”
Bulletin photo by
is, not by itself, going to generate success for a candidate. When it
comes time to deal with ‘Am I going to win on Tuesday?’,
how can you ignore 80 percent of the people who are coming to the polls?’
and Alexander Martin are undergraduate students at Northeastern University.