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Radio’s revenue opportunities for attracting political spending in 2018, in many cases, will come from rural areas and smaller DMAs that lag in broadband and smartphone penetration rates compared to the rest of the nation, thus traditional media, like radio and television, remain prime methods to reach this target audience.

And despite the fact that this is not a presidential election year, there remain ample opportunities for political spending from a number of contested races in smaller markets, alongside the higher tally of gubernatorial races. That is according to a post on the Radio Advertising Bureau’s “Radio Matters” blog titled “Political Media Buying 2018: Where Does Radio Fit?”

One of the bigger debates on political media buying during this election cycle is the potential shift from traditional media to digital and other alternative marketing platforms, says the post’s author, Leo Kivijarv, Ph.D., Executive VP & Director of Research of PQ Media. First, a 2017 survey of political media buying consultants reported that the age of agency principals determines whether traditional media will continue to represent the lion’s share of media buying—which would remain in place because most consulting firms are run by older executives. On the other hand, Kivijarv writes, at a January 2018 political media conference, panel members discussed recent campaigns that relied heavily on digital strategies, including some instances that television was not in the mix.

His firm, PQ Media, “is leery of campaigns that rely too heavily on digital to reach core voters, particularly those that Trump reached in 2016 to win key states.” For example, candidates often rely on traditional media in small communities in which the largest town has a population of around 10,000 people—like Nodaway County in northwest Missouri, which offers only a handful of media platforms like radio, newspapers, out-of-home and event marketing.

Based on assumptions from political pundits, PQ Media estimates that in 2018, slightly more than $6.575 billion will be spent on political media buying, a 9.2% decline from the $7.25 billion spent in 2016, but up 9.8% compared with the almost $6 billion spent in 2016. Radio will slightly exceed $470 million in 2018, a 15.2% gain over 2016 and 9.5% increase over 2014, which represents a 7.2% share of overall media buying, up from 5.6% in 2016, and equal to the 2014 share. Broadcast television will account for slightly less than half of the spending, while direct mail is the only other platform to exceed $1 billion. And mobile will register the fastest growth compared with 2014, rising over 210%, while cable television, internet, experiential marketing, public relations, market research and promotional products will post double-digit gains.