Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Google Now Allows Advertisers To Target Ads By Congressional District

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, August 3 2012

Google rolled out a new service this week that enables advertisers to target their audience specifically by congressional district.

The new functionality adds a level of granularity that isn't available through Facebook, and comes at a time when incumbent candidates and their challengers are dealing with newly-redrawn districts.

With so much talk about digital microtargeting by location, personal interests, age, and your buying habits, it's surprising in a sense that this most obvious and relevant way of targeting voters isn't already the norm. Both Facebook and Google have enabled ad-targeting by zip code in the past year, but not specifically by congressional district. But as Google's Jesse Friedman pointed out earlier this year, the process of redrawing the lines is relatively complicated, politically fraught, and has been subject to court challenges.

Digital media directors have long praised digital advertising for being a more cost-efficient tool than television as a method of targeting relevant voters -- this new service takes that concept to a new level thanks to information compiled by the mapping software company Azavea.

Google's new capability is part of its AdWords program. Political and issue-oriented campaigns can now focus their messages through Google's display, mobile and video ads within these specific congressional areas by specifying their district numbers within their advertising parameters.

The National Congressional Republican Committee has already started using the program to strategically target five congressional Democrats who voted on Wednesday against a bill that would extend expiring income tax cuts put in place in 2001 and 2003 by President George W. Bush.

The NRCC has bought YouTube pre-roll in the districts in which the Democrats are running for re-election. These ads supplement the television ads being run by the NRCC's political action committee.

The five Congressional Democrats are: Bruce Braley running to hold onto Iowa's 1st district; John Garamendi currently of California's 10th district, now running for the state's third district; Mike Michaud of Maine's 2nd district; Nick Rahall of West Virginia's 3rd district; and Betty Sutton of Ohio's 13th district, running for its redrawn 16th district.

"We love it -- any time you can be more specific, it benefits a political campaign," said the NRCC's Digital Director Gerrit Lansing in an interview. "We'll be using it constantly."

The NRCC so far has budgeted $10,000 for each district.

"We'll run until the buy runs out and then make a determination based on the analytics to keep going on not," Lansing said.

This post has been updated.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

More