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A Boom in Political Ads

Politicians are expected to spend $3 billion on TV advertising in 2008, driving up ad prices for everyone. Businesses are scrambling to work around the problem

With TV ads from Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) airing during the Super Bowl in some markets and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) buying an entire hour on the Hallmark Channel on Feb. 4, the airwaves were jam-packed with politicians in the days leading up to Super Tuesday. But marketing experts say that was just a small preview of the deluge to come this fall, as candidates for offices ranging from dogcatcher to President of the U.S. begin to buy television time in unprecedented amounts. The surge in political ads threatens to crowd out the messages of business marketers.

In 2004, politicians at all levels spent roughly $1.7 billion on TV advertising. That number is expected to nearly double, to $3 billion this year, according to an analysis by TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group. The massive influx of spending into the roughly $26 billion TV spot-advertising market will drive up ad prices for everyone, especially in the most hotly contested states like Ohio and Florida.