Microtargeting Political Ads
The amount of spending for online campaign ads was substantially higher for this year compared to the last election, which was expected as online ad spending in general has steadily increased. For the past few months it seemed as though Obama was keeping me company every time I surfed the web and Romney ads were nowhere to be found. Once I noticed Romney’s web absence, I realized I was a victim of political “Microtargeting”.
Political ads take over the televisions of anyone living in a “battleground” state when election day nears, but political ads online are much more personal. For this year’s election, both Obama’s and Romney’s campaigns used microtargeting to pitch personalized ads to internet users. They match data from cookies and browsing history with lists of registered voters and are able to target you based on age, location, ethnicity, voting history, gender, personal interests, etc. They then group internet users accordingly and feed you political ads based on what they believe you will want to hear. For example, if a college student were to attempt to watch a YouTube video, they might be forced to watch an Obama ad before the video started. This ad would most likely somehow portray the image that the president cared about them and also encourage them to early vote. However, had a little kid attempted to watch the same video, he might be forced to watch a videogame advertisement. These ads can be seen all over the web on sites such as ESPN, YouTube, Pandora, Google, Facebook, Twitter, MTV, and Yahoo. In battleground states, Obama’s campaign even extended to EA Sports video games such as Madden 13, and to many apps on smartphones. This all explains why I was a victim to Obama ads while others were not. The Obama campaign apparently viewed me as a persuadable/important vote and the Romney campaign must have seen my vote as just the opposite.
These ads seem to be more cost effective because they only have to pay for the ads when they are played and the ads are only played for target markets. They are also more relevant to the viewer and can prove to be more effective. On the other hand, many people don’t favor the idea of these political campaigns having access to this information. How do you feel about this use of personal information and do you think these ads are more effective than tv commercials?