Digital Political 'Microtargeting' To Be Tracked By New Tech

UW-Madison on Thursday announced that an associate professor at its School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Young Mie Kim, “has been awarded a Knight Foundation grant for media innovation promoting election communications and civic engagement during 2016 election campaigns.”

Kim is working with the Office for Creative Research in New York City to develop a tool that will track online political ads that are “personally customized to an individual voter,” per a release. Kim and her colleagues are calling the tool Floodwatch Elections, and have dubbed the personalization of political ads “microtargeting.”

"This is a big difference from TV or radio ads, which are openly sent to the public," Kim said in a prepared statement. "I am trying to understand microtargeting patterns to reveal the behind-the-scenes strategy of the campaigns."

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One of those patterns has already been revealed by programmatic video ad platform TubeMogul. The ad tech firm on Wednesday released new data that found that political video ads bought via programmatic -- which is typically targeted to specific people, i.e. the “microtargeting” Kim is aiming to keep tabs on -- is already on the rise in early primary states.

According to TubeMogul’s data, desktop pre-roll impressions served on news and current event sites in the political vertical within the early primary states rose 84% between May and June 2015.

Kim is launching the “microtargeting” political advertising project at an interesting time, as there looks to be significantly more personalization via programmatic ad tech in the 2016 election than ever before.

A recent Strata political survey found that 85% of political agencies are using programmatic for their media-buying efforts, which has caused some ad tech firms -- such as Rubicon Project -- to move into the Washington, D.C. area to be in the thick of it all.

According to a release, Kim’s tool is under development and is expected to launch in January 2016 in preparation for the presidential election.

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