July 15, 2016
As the Democrats and Republicans convene at their national party conventions in coming weeks, the general election kicks into full swing. Thanks to generous support from the Rita Allen Foundation, we are delighted to announce that the Political TV Ad Archive, a project of the Internet Archive, will be ramping up to track political ads airing in eight key battleground states in the lead up to Election Day.
The $110,000 grant will enable Political TV Ad Archive to continue the work begun during the primary months, when the project tracked more than 145,000 airings of ads in 23 markets in key primary states. The project uses audio fingerprinting algorithms to track occurrences of ads backed by candidates, political action committees, “dark money” nonprofit groups and more—all linked to information on where and when ads have aired, sponsors, subjects and messages.
The website provides a searchable database of all the political ads archived, and all ads are embeddable and shareable on social media. In addition, the underlying metadata on frequency ad airings is available for downloading, and journalists from such outlets as The Washington Post, Fox News, and FiveThirtyEight.com have used it to inform reporting, visualizations, and other creative uses to put these ads in context for readers. The Political TV Ad Archive also partners with respected journalism and fact checking organizations, such as the Center for Responsive Politics, PolitiFact, and FactCheck.org.
The Rita Allen Foundation supported the initial development of the Archive’s technology through a pilot project, the Philly Political Media Watch Project, which collected ads aired in the Philadelphia region in the lead-up to the 2014 midterm election. The Rita Allen Foundation also helped to sponsor the primary election phase of the Political TV Ad Archive, which received funding from the Knight News Challenge on Elections.