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New WMP Research Sheds Light on Political Ads Online

Political ad campaigns on Facebook are not necessarily comparable to political ad campaigns on television, argues a newly-published article from the Wesleyan Media Project’s co-directors.  In a manuscript titled, “The Influence of Goals and Timing: How Campaigns Deploy Ads on Facebook,” which appears in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, Travis Ridout, Erika Franklin Fowler and Michael Franz suggest that political ads on Facebook pursue a variety of goals—and the goals pursued depend on the timing of the campaign. The research examines Facebook ads placed by 24 different candidates running for U.S. Senate in 2018.  The ads were tracked…
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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…
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Tracking Political Ads in Smaller Media Markets

Some districts harder to track than others, but not many competitive races are affected (MIDDLETOWN, CT) July 24, 2019 - The Wesleyan Media Project obtains ad data from Kantar Media/CMAG, which represents the most comprehensive and systematic collection on the content and targeting of political advertisements. There is, however, one feature of Kantar’s data that we want to highlight for our data users: each media market in the country is either a “discovery” market or a “non-discovery” market. Discovery markets have technology that allows them to compare new sound wave patterns from ads to the existing database to determine whether…
2016 ElectionsBlogReleases

WMP/CRP Special Report
Outside Group Activity, 2000-2016

Super PACs dominate 2016; “Dark Money” a consistent but growing presence since 2000; Outside Groups at all-time high in share of ads aired; most groups active in only one election cycle August 24, 2016 (MIDDLETOWN, CT) August 24, 2016 – A new historical analysis of political advertising data by the Wesleyan Media Project, in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics, reveals several important findings about the involvement of outside groups in elections over the past decade and a half.  In particular, the report provides an in-depth assessment of outside group advertising (2.4 million airings) over time, examining trends in the…
Wesleyan Media Project
August 24, 2016