Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group — a global PR research and analysis firm — has been collecting campaign ads. And now that they’ve got 10 years worth (upwards of 50,000 ads from the federal, state, and local level), they’ve done something amazing with them.
This stunning (and initially kind of overwhelming) interactive graphic breaks down the ads by party, topic, race, and relative airtime. It’s a stunning piece of datavisualization, and it links to every single one of the ads it has tracked, providing not just a graphical representation of an almost ungraspable amount of data, but an actual live database of the component parts (in this case, each unique ad), as well.
…beyond enabling binge-viewing of 50,000+ campaign ads, the Eye reflects a thing or two about how political advertising has evolved—even just within the past two presidential races. Not one ad from the 2012 race exceeded the spot count of any of the 10 most-aired ads of 2008. (The most-aired ad of the 2012 race, an Obama ad attacking GOP nominee Mitt Romney for his “47%” remark, actually ranks 12th overall.)
What’s this a reflection of? A smaller battleground in 2012 meant those presidential ads aired across fewer markets, which held down occurrences. But beyond that, the 2012 Obama campaign targeted many of their ads more narrowly, keeping as many as 20 unique commercials on the air at any one time. Many 2012 presidential ads also aired for shorter periods of time than ads in previous races because they were produced to either drive, or take advantage of the news cycle—a growing trend for political ads.