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First POST: Paranoid Liberalism

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, January 21 2014

The New Republic accuses Snowden, Greenwald and Assange of being "paranoid libertarians"; Academics think Facebook can be used to predict election results; Data-mining for marketing purposes goes really, really awry; and much, much more. Read More

As Ads with Mystery Donors Rush Into Politics, Searching Their Wake for Clues

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, October 10 2012

The Sunlight Foundation* has launched Political Ad Sleuth, a project to track and help contribute to a database detailing money spent on political ads this election year.

The initial source of the documents in the database comes from around 200 local stations' "political files" — tranches, mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, of data on all the political ads bought at each station and at what price. Those 200 stations in the 50 largest television markets in the country were required to hand over those datasets beginning earlier this year to be posted online.

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Was That Political Ad Over the Top? New Survey Promises to Answer Straight from Voters' Mouths

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 24 2012

Similar to the way many news sites now ask visitors to flag stories as funny, discouraging or provocative, a new project plans to poll Internet users for their reactions to selected political ads.

Vanderbilt University and polling firm YouGov are launching a project that will ask a representative sample of 600 Americans to give their reactions to each of a number of controversial and "game-changing" ads, selected by the polling team and with the help of Republican consultant Fred Davis. Their responses will be collected through online surveys, and the results will be posted on the web.

The project could help researchers develop a more nuanced view of the effectiveness of ads, said Ken Goldstein, president of Kantar Media. The big mistake in looking at political advertising often is, he said, that "we were just counting bombs." This project "gives you the potential to make that more nuanced -- this particular ad aired this many times but is rated in these different ways."

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FCC to Preview Online Database of Political TV Ads

BY Nick Judd | Friday, July 6 2012

The Federal Communications Commission is set July 17 to conduct a public demonstration of the system it has built to host its newly mandated database of political television ad buys. Beginning with television stations in the nation's 50 largest media markets, broadcasters will be required to post information about which campaigns have purchased advertising time on their television stations — which they are already obliged to store at their offices and make available to the public upon request — on a central, FCC-hosted database. On July 17, FCC officials will demonstrate the system in-house staff have built to handle this work. Read More

[OP-ED]: In Defense of Big Data and Political Ad Targeting

BY Jordan Lieberman and Megan Cellucci | Monday, July 2 2012

Rebutting academic David Parry's suggestion last week that sophisticated online ad targeting is harmful to democracy, the managing director and senior digital strategist at online political advertising firm CampaignGrid write: "Voters have received relevant campaign information for at least a generation. Women often receive mailers about women’s issues, and voters with hunting licenses often receive mailers about a candidate’s position on the Second Amendment and gun control. CampaignGrid has used technology to move to the web activities that have taken place over the phone, through the mail, and – most intrusively – door-to-door, for decades. Assistant Professor Parry fails to connect how online advertising is any better or worse than other forms of sophisticated targeting that have been used for years." Read More

Online Ad Targeting is Going Local

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, June 18 2012

An outside group backing a Democratic candidate for Congress in New York is using highly targeted web ads to reach potential voters. With lots of talk about targeting at the presidential level, it's worth noting as smaller campaigns adopt the same practice.

A group affiliated with Emily's List called "Women Vote!" has so far dropped $38,000 in online advertising to support Grace Meng, a candidate for the Democratic nod to replace Rep. Gary Ackerman in New York's 6th District, City and State reported last week.

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This Isn't What Political Air Time Usually Means

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, May 23 2012

MoveOn.org is asking supporters for $150,000 in donations to fly a plane above high-dollar fundraisers for Mitt Romney with "a message that reminds voters how he represents his corporate and 1% donors." MoveOn previously hired a plane to fly over Romney's Liberty University graduation speech with the message "GOP = HIGHER SCHOOL DEBT." Read More

With the 2012 Election Looming, NRCC Names a New Digital Director

BY Nick Judd | Friday, April 27 2012

The National Republican Congressional Committee's eCampaigns director, John Randall, has left to become director of political advertising at AOL, the NRCC has confirmed. House Budget Committee press secretary Gerrit Lansing is leaving his current gig to become digital director at the NRCC. Lansing's first day is April 30. Read More

FCC Votes to Put Broadcasters' Political Ad Hauls Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 27 2012

The Federal Communications Commission voted this morning to modify the disclosure procedures for major-market broadcast TV stations, requiring them to post their their "public files" — which include information about political ads — online in a FCC-hosted online database. Currently, the public files are stored in paper form at a broadcaster's main studio. Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn voted to affirm the entire order, while Commissioner Robert McDowell dissented to the portions of the Order requiring the political file to be posted, according to an FCC statement. Read More

Mobile Political Ads Could Be Coming To You, Wherever You Are

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, November 29 2011

Over at Politico, Emily Schultheis digs in to how targeted political advertising might show up on your phone more often next year. Between anecdotes about mobile ads in the field, like one from Rep. Michele Bachmann's ... Read More