"When people are watching TV they are either skipping or fast forwarding through commercials or watching something else on their phone," said Jason Stein, CEO of social media agency Laundry Service. "The traditional TV spot has lost its relevance. You no longer need TV to run for president of the United States, and that tells you something about the state of TV."
While it is true older people are more likely to vote than the youth, the shift in behavior toward online and mobile media has increased interest in digital advertising. Many experts believe that digital ads will become even more important when today's youth becomes the coveted voters. Add to the fact that online ads can target specific voters even better than regional television commercials ever could promise.
"In many ways, people looked at social and digital channels as a check-the-box platform in previous elections," said Lenny Stern, founding partner of marketing communications agency SS+K. "Now, the social and digital world is the nerve center for finding people and targeting people."
In addition, political TV ad prices are too high right now in many markets, said Michael Beach, co-founder of advertising technology company Targeted Victory. The demand and price for ads are increasing only on the few shows that people are watching live, he said. Most candidates feel they have to buy TV because that is what is traditionally done, inflating prices even further, added Beach, whose company worked with Republican candidates including Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney.
"(Digital and TV) ads are probably equally as effective per person, but less people are seeing television ads than cycles past," Beach said.
Digital media isn't as crowded because there are so many different platforms, and candidates are just starting to really utilize it, he pointed out. Beach said in some key areas like Columbus, Ohio, television ad prices can go up as much as 10 times, where digital ad prices increase 40 to 50 percent at the most. The three final Republican candidates in the primaries — Trump, Cruz and John Kasich — relied heavily on digital advertising, Beach said.