Data Download

Put the Archive to Work

About the Dataset

The Political TV Ad Archive, a project of the Internet Archive, archives political ads and tracks ad airings in select markets in the 2016 elections. 

Download Details of Airings on TV

These datasets provide details about airings of ads on TV, giving information about when and where they aired. Divided datasets by quarter are also available for download.

Download a List of Unique Ads Archived

This dataset provides information on every ad archived by the project, whether or not that ad has been captured as airing on television.

TV Recording

The Internet Archive maintains constant TV collection points in three broadcast markets: Philadelphia; San Francisco; and the Washington, DC area. San Francisco is the point where we collect national cable television shows. During the 2016 primary months, we collected major broadcast channels temporarily in 20 markets in nine key states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia. For the general election, we are collecting major broadcast channels in ten markets in ten battleground states, most of which also include competitive U.S. Senate races: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. All of the TV collected becomes part of the TV News Archive at the Internet Archive, and it also becomes source material to find specific airings of political ads.
Note: our data may change over time as we make improvements, correct errors, etc. Downloaded data includes a date stamp, so you can track when you obtained it.

Audio Fingerprinting

We are using audfprint technology to identify unique instances of political ads contained in streams of television. Developed by Dan Ellis at Columbia University, this tool can identify segments of identical audio by comparing audio “fingerprints.” This robust open source system is able to hear past added noise, adjust to time skews, and different encoding schemes. Known as the Duplitron, this tool, developed by senior engineer Dan Schultz, is also open source, and is available here. To read more about the technology behind this project, click here


This is the place to see all the metadata we offer on political TV ad airings in markets we cover, including date and time, name of the TV program, subjects covered by the ad, and more. Only ads we’ve recorded as airing on TV are included here. Note: Ad airings in San Francisco should be examined closely. Since we record national cable TV stations in San Francisco, it’s possible that the airings reflect news coverage by networks such as MSNBC or Fox as opposed to paid airings of an ad.

Unique Ads Archived Metadata

Here is a description of metadata we offer in our download of unique ads. This list includes not just ads that have aired on TV in markets we track, but also ads that may air in other parts of the country or appear exclusively on social media.