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Calculating Reported Spending on Facebook Advertising

Photo: WOCinTech Chat/Flickr (MIDDLETOWN, CT) September 1, 2020 – With Facebook online ads making up a large part of political advertising, the Wesleyan Media Project (WMP) strives to use the Facebook data in its reporting on campaign spending. To do this, WMP uses the Facebook spending reports that are posted on the Facebook Ad Library website. Between arriving as a download and appearing as a tidbit of information on a website, a report undergoes several transformations, depending on the final use of the information. Some of them involve cleaning up data, others involve classification into political entities. An entity is…
Wesleyan Media Project
September 1, 2020

Why Is Digital Advertising So Hard to Track?

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr(MIDDLETOWN, CT) August 7, 2020 – Since 2010, the Wesleyan Media Project (WMP) has tracked political advertising on television, but the project only started providing data on digital advertising in 2018—and those numbers carry with them several caveats.  Why is it so hard to track digital advertising?1. The major social media platforms libraries don’t cover all digital advertising. While Facebook (including Instagram) and Google (including YouTube) have provided data on ads since May 2018, most vendors that place advertising on third-party sites do not provide any public information on their political ad sales (Google Ad Networks is the…
2016 ElectionsBlogReleases

Eschewing policy in advertising? Lessons from 2016

Photo: Lorie Shaull   (MIDDLETOWN, CT) February 25, 2020 – Michael Bloomberg’s recent political ad, which portrays Donald Trump as a bully, has prompted discussion on social media about the effectiveness of personal versus policy attacks. Many of these discussions invoked a Wesleyan Media Project analysis from 2016 published in The Forum. In this research, we demonstrated that Clinton ran one of the most unusual presidential advertising campaigns in recent history by focusing overwhelmingly on personal characteristics of her opponent, Trump. While our 2016 study did not speak to effectiveness of personal versus policy ads, there is evidence that candidates suffer…
Wesleyan Media Project
February 25, 2020
2018 ElectionsBlogReleasesYear-End Summaries

Latest WMP Research

Photo: John Brighenti/Flickr 2018 Political Advertising Year-end Summary Published in PS (MIDDLETOWN, CT) September 27, 2019 -- New research published in PS by Erika Franklin Fowler, Michael M. Franz and Travis N. Ridout, co-directors of the Wesleyan Media Project, offers a post-mortem on political advertising in 2018, providing important context for that year’s “blue wave” in which Democrats picked up 40 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Using ad tracking data from the Wesleyan Media Project, the authors find that in the vast majority of races, there were more pro-Democratic than pro-Republican ads, including in the most competitive contests—and even in those races…
Wesleyan Media Project
September 27, 2019