In the Kennedy era of the 1960s or the Reagan era of the 1980s, political television ads swayed millions of votes. They were the opinion programming of their time, attracting genuine attention from viewers.
Things are different today. The value of traditional ads is coming under question as they rise in price and decline in effectiveness. If the 2016 election started the conversation about whether traditional paid media is worth the money, then the 2020 election could very well have finished it.
Approximately $8 billion was spent throughout the 2020 cycle on political ads — the most in history — but both sides have little to show for it. Democrats outspent Republicans nearly 2-to-1, yet the states where they spent the most seemed to yield the least results.