Friday, October 06, 2006

Ad Buys, Part Two: The Comcast Buys

Monday we showed you Part One in our look at political TV ad buys for the election season. I won't go into detail again on the process, but the short story is that stations must maintain a public file showing who's buying time, when and how much, and what they're paying for it. Carla and I went to each of the main Portland affiliates, and compiled the figures.

This week I rolled on down 1st Avenue SW until I found the Comcast Spotlight offices, which handle advertising for the cable provider. Once again, we've compiled the totals, and present them to you here. Also once again, these are images of scans of Excel sheets, which is the only way I know how to get something like that embedded into Blogger. I apologize for forcing the extra step on you to see them properly. Anyhow, let's take a look just at the Comcast buys for a moment (to see them better, click on the image, then click again to zoom): The first thing that should jump out at you in comparison to the broadcast totals is that, geez, there sure are a lot more buyers! Indeed, this is where the legislative candidates hang out (none that I recall bought broadcast time), and where statewide candidates do specific area targeting. Comcast provides the ability to show ads across the state, or just in one corner of them. (You can see all the different areas--some as small as Baker City or La Grande--in this table. Please ignore the question mark after Eugene; it's not in the original, and I'm tired of futzing with Microlame products tonight.)

Along with that geographic flexibility is an ad-buying bargain so good, after writing about them I wanted to spend $100 and air a couple dozen spots in Baker myself. (In it, I'd probably wave and say "Hi Chuck Butcher! Let's get a beer!") The average political spot on cable costs almost THIRTY times less than the same spot on KGW--just $26. And that's the average; Mike Erickson purchased 30 spots to run in August in the town of Dallas. Total cost (and I checked twice and rubbed my eyes to make sure): $96. $3.20 an ad! That's $3.20 away from just putting it up on YouTube, folks.

Here's another example showing how much your price changes depending on where and when you buy: Ron Saxton leads all candidates or campaigns in total Comcast spending, nearly a cool quarter of a million bucks for about 5,000 spots. But you'll never guess whose commercials will air the most times on cable--Republican challenger Carol York in the 26th Senate District, against Rick Metsger. She has already purchased an amazing 9,260 spots to air, mostly around Hood River and Sandy--nearly twice as many as Saxton, but at a cost about 1/5th of what Saxton paid purchasing ads for the entire Portland and Eugene markets. And on the Central Coast, the airwaves may threaten to drown out the ocean waves when Democratic challenger Jean Cowan is done with her 5,400 spots.

I'll leave you to scan the rest of the report, but check out Rob Brading's competitive buy against Karen Minnis, and Larry Galizio's aggressive attempt to keep his Tigard House seat. Also don't forget the initiatives; the No campaign on 41 and 48 is well funded with ads, as is the No on 43 camps. Note that no challenge to those ads is being raised on cable at this time--apparently parents of Daughters Needing Protecting don't watch cable.

What's the Democratic Senate committee doing putting money into the Portland market? They're showing ads in South Washington for Maria Cantwell. Also putting spots into the Vancouver sub-market were two groups definitely opposed to tribal gambling casinos in The Gorge. Finally , and--I'm dying to know why--there's the Kurdistan Development Corporation. (Do you suppose somewhere there's a Kurdish Jack Bogdanski, blogging about how wasteful and corrupt the KDC is?)

So now it's time to fold the Comcast numbers into our previous figures, and present combined broadcast/cable totals. As I've indicated, since Comcast's numbers include non-Portland markets we've expanded a bit beyond the "Portland ad buy" theme, but since our fleet of paid research assistants deployed across the state all appear to be sick or on vacation, this is as comprehensive as you're going to get from us on Oregon political ad purchases. Once again, these were transcribed by hand, and while we were dilligent to avoid duplication in reporting and simple transcription errors, these are unofficial figures:

Your winner, with almost 8,000 individual ads and over 2.1 million dollars, is Republican goobernatorial spendthrift--er, candidate--Ron Saxton. Here at LO Central, we wish him all the weight of the old adage, "familiarity breeds contempt." Put both Kulongoski's line and his PAC's together, and you still get less than $800K. He's almost sure to buy more for the homestretch (he'd better, sitting on 1.3mil in the bank), but even if he spent every last dime he had on ads, he'd still be outspent on them by Saxton. We'll see how that strategy works out for both men.

I have to say, I'm surprised and pleased at the strong coalition effort made by the No on 41/48 group; to be up there with the heavily funded Saxton, Erickson and No on 42 camps is quite the coordinated accomplishment. I have a pretty good feeling that these measures will indeed fail, particularly the egregious TABOR-style 48. No counting chickens yet, but hopefully this effort will lead to a welcomed sigh of relief on Nov. 8th.

Short hits:
  • Brian Clem and Billy Dalto, duking it out dollar-for-dollar!
  • Rob Brading ($76K) putting up a credible airwar against Karen Minnis ($115K)
  • Mike Erickson drops $570K of his own money into ads...but no more than $80K of them will air after September {Excel file, showing buys by candidate and month}
  • Oregonians for Choice (No on 43) nearly doubling the buy of Yes on 43
  • Even county commissioner candidates like Jeff Cogen ($30K) and Lynn Peterson ($25K) are getting into the ad buying frenzy
  • Ben Westlund: I spent $50,000, and all I got was this lousy NAV registration!
And here's the last embedded chart for the day, including Comcast into the by-station analysis. Geez, look at the extra work they have to do, to capture essentially the same amount of revenue as the broadcast houses. Somebody has to write, print, mail, and catalog all those invoices, and someone has to program those 88,000 spots. No wonder I have to keep answering those Nigerian emails on hopes one of them will pan out and I can pay my cable bill!