Tag Archive for Wesleyan Media Project

Wesleyan Media Project Co-Directors Author Book on Political Advertising

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and her collaborators on the Wesleyan Media Project are the authors of a new book, Political Advertising in the United Statespublished in February by Westview Press. The book is edited by Ada Fung ’06.

Fowler’s co-authors are Michael Franz of Bowdoin College and Travis Ridout of Washington State University.

Political Advertising in the United States is a comprehensive survey of the political advertising landscape and its influence on voters. The authors draw from the latest data to analyze how campaign finance laws have affected the sponsorship and content of political advertising, how “big data” has allowed for more sophisticated targeting, and how the Internet and social media have changed the distribution of ads. The book includes detailed analysis of presidential and congressional campaign ads and discussion questions in each chapter.

See the Wesleyan Media Project’s latest analyses of campaign advertising in the 2016 elections here.

The Wesleyan Media Project Finds More Campaign Advertising with Little Impact

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

The campaign season so far has seen a significant increase in the volume of GOP presidential ads, and an explosion in advertising by super PACs and other outside groups. Outside groups sponsored 81 percent of ads between January 1–December 9, 2015—a 71 percent increase over 2011, and 12,000 percent increase over 2007.

This was the finding of an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project, its first of the 2016 election cycle. The “remarkable growth in campaign activity by independent groups” it found was covered by The Washington Post, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, USA Today, Vox and others.

Notably, the report found little correlation between campaign advertising and a candidate’s poll numbers. As Vox demonstrates in a chart, there actually appears to be an inverse relationship between the two at this point. They write: “The big thing that jumps out is the contrast between Jeb Bush (lots of spending, low poll numbers) and Donald Trump (no spending, high poll numbers).” The apparent ineffectiveness of TV campaign ads has led some to ask whether their death is near.

“It’s far too early to call for the death of TV advertising,” Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, says in the report. “The Republican field is still crowded, which makes for a more challenging advertising environment. It is also important to remember that volume isn’t everything. All ads are not created equal; advertising content and the characteristics of the receiving audience matter and will condition their influence.”

Fowler discussed ad effectiveness with NPR:

“Some ads score well” on effectiveness, she said. “But volume and quality don’t go hand in hand.”

She cited “Desk,” a 30-second spot the Bush superPAC released last week. As the camera moves in toward the desk in the Oval Office, images of Trump, then Ted Cruz, and then Marco Rubio appear as if sitting behind it. An announcer suggests each is unqualified for the job — and then the ad shifts to talk about Bush.

Fowler said three attacks are too many. “It ends up coming off as a laundry list,” she said. And right now that’s the problem with the whole campaign: “There are too many other candidates to attack.” She predicted the ads will get more focused and effective as the candidate field shrinks.

Fowler’s Articles on Advertising in 2014 Midterm Elections Published

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler recently had two new articles on advertising in the 2014 elections published.

Co-written with her Wesleyan Media Project co-director Travis Ridout of Washington State University, “Political Advertising in 2014: The Year of the Outside Group” was published in The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics in December 2014. The paper notes a plateau in political advertising volumes and levels of negativity this election cycle, and an increasingly prominent role played by outside groups, especially in competitive races for the U.S. Senate. It also tracks the most competitive races, looks at issues featured in ads, and notes that advertising started earlier this election cycle.

Another paper, written by Fowler, Ridout and the Wesleyan Media Project’s third co-director, Michael Franz of Bowdoin University, titled, “Sponsorship, Disclosure and Donors: Limiting the Impact of Outside Group Ads,” was published online in Political Research Quarterly in December 2014. The paper reports that interest group advertising from dark money sources has grown. Yet despite extensive advertising, the vast majority of the public has not heard of prominent interest group advertisers, regardless of whether or not they disclose their donors. Building on a small but growing literature, the authors demonstrate that advertising from unknown interest groups is viewed more credibly and ultimately moves intended vote choice more than ads from candidates. Disclosure–either in an ad or through the news media–levels the playing field in ad effectiveness, but does not make interest group advertising any less effective than candidate advertising.

 

Wesleyan Media Project’s Research Cited in Senate Committee Hearing

The Wesleyan Media Project’s research was cited by U.S. Senator Angus King of Maine during a hearing April 30 of the Senate Committee on Rules & Administration. The subject of the hearing was “Dollars and Sense: How Undisclosed Money and Post-McCutcheon Campaign Finance Will Affect 2014 and Beyond.” Watch a recording of the webcast here.

The Wesleyan Media Project, directed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and collaborators at Bowdoin College and Washington State University, works to increase transparency about political advertising. It tracks political ad airings on television and reports in real time about ad sponsors, spending, tone and content. The project’s co-directors submitted written testimony to the Senate committee about growing interest group involvement in elections and how disclosure matters.

Knight Foundation Supports Wesleyan Media Project

The Wesleyan Media Project has received a grant of $74,800 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to track and analyze campaign ad spending in the 2014 midterm election cycle. The project is directed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, along with Michael Franz of Bowdoin College and Travis Ridout of Washington State University. A resource for journalists, policymakers, scholars and voters, the project has worked to increase transparency in federal elections since it was established in 2010 with support from Knight Foundation.

Read more about the grant and the Wesleyan Media Project’s work here.

Knight Foundation Supports Wesleyan Media Project

The Wesleyan Media Project received a grant of $74,851 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to track and analyze campaign ad spending in the 2014 midterm election cycle.

The project is directed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, along with Michael Franz of Bowdoin College and Travis Ridout of Washington State University. A resource for journalists, policymakers, scholars and voters, the project has worked to increase transparency in federal elections since it was established in 2010 with support from the Knight Foundation.

Wesleyan Media Project Provides Political Ad Tracking, Analysis During Election

Matt Motta ’13 uses an online system to "code" political ads. Motta estimates that he has watched between 400 and 500 unique ad spots through his work on the Wesleyan Media Project.

Matt Motta ’13 uses an online system to “code” political ads. Motta estimates that he has watched between 400 and 500 unique ad spots through his work on the Wesleyan Media Project.

In the first presidential election since the Citizens United case transformed the campaign finance landscape, the number of ads airing in the presidential race alone surpassed one million by late October.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

While 2012 saw a sharp increase in the number of outside interest group players in the election, and corresponding increases in the amount of spending from groups who do not have to disclose their donors, there remained one consistent source of transparency in advertising—the Wesleyan Media Project. A political ad tracking project headed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and colleagues at Bowdoin College and Washington State University, the Wesleyan Media Project provided data and analysis for hundreds of news stories on the election.

“Federal reporting guidelines do not ensure that the public knows who is attempting to influence elections before they go to the ballot box,” Fowler says. “The Wesleyan Media Project’s goal is to provide publicly available information, in real-time, during elections to increase transparency and to better enable citizens to hold various interests accountable.”

The Wesleyan Media Project, established in 2010, is the successor to the Wisconsin Advertising Project, which tracked political ads between 1998 and 2008. The Wesleyan Media Project is supported this year by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, and Wesleyan University.

The Wesleyan Media Project purchases raw data on campaign advertising

China, American Election Roundtable to Include Fowler as Panelist

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, will be a panelist at a roundtable discussion at Yale University on Monday, Oct. 29. The subject is China and the American Election. Fowler will be joined by James Fallows of The Atlantic, Stephen Roach of the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and the Yale University School of Management, and Jeremy Wu of the Committee of 100, and former senior advisor to the U.S. Census Bureau. As China’s rapid development, and Sino-American relations continue to be featured in the media during the current U.S. election season, the panelists will offer their perspectives to help situate campaign appeals in the context of American attitudes toward China; Chinese perceptions of the United States; complex economic motivations; and larger campaign dynamics and electoral considerations.

The discussion will begin at 6 p.m. in Room 101 (Henry R. Luce Hall), 34 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven, Conn. It is free and open to the public. RSVP to eastasian.studies@yale.edu by Oct. 26.

Wesleyan Media Project Already Shaping 2012 News Coverage

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Much like the primaries for both sides in 2008, this race looks to continue its jockeying right into June. But through it there is one resource that provides some clarity, at least when it comes to the money being spent on campaign ads: The Wesleyan Media Project.

Created in 2010, The Wesleyan Media Project is a nonpartisan, academically-based effort designed to television track advertising in all federal elections. It is directed by Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government. The co-directors include Michael Franz, associate professor of government at Bowdoin College, and Travis Ridout, associate professor of political science at Washington State University.

Knight Foundation Supports The Wesleyan Media Project

Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government, is director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

The Wesleyan Media Project has received a $100,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Wesleyan Media Project is a non-partisan initiative designed to perform comprehensive tracking and analysis of federal and gubernatorial political advertisements by candidates, parties and special interest groups. It also provides experiential learning for graduate and undergraduate students in the review, coding and analysis of political advertisements.

Since its launch in late September 2010, The Wesleyan Media Project

Wesleyan Media Project in The New York Times, Others

The first data analysis released by the Wesleyan Media Project is making national news. The New York Times recently reported that ads mentioning China had been run by 29 candidates for national office and cited the Wesleyan Media Project and it’s director, Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government.

The data analysis findings were also reported by BusinessWeek, among other outlets, and indicate that spending on political ads has increased by $220 million over the 2008 campaign cycle. Some of the increases are a result of senate races in more populous states than in 2008, including California, New York, and Florida. However the recent Supreme Court ruling in the ‘Citizens United’ case allowing more special interest and union money to flow into the campaigns has had an effect, with political action groups and unions coming in as top 10 spenders, some in a less than transparent manner.

“We are seeing evidence of changing tactics as groups seek shelter in the rules for nonprofits that allow such organizations to withhold their donor names,” said Erika Fowler, assistant professor of government and director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Other stories citing the Wesleyan Media Project have appeared everywhere from NPR, The Christian Science Monitor, CBS News, The Washington Post, to media outlets in China, India, Asia, and Europe.

The full results and data can be found at the Wesleyan Media Project’s site.

The Wesleyan Media Project is a nonpartisan initiative that operates with grant support from The Knight Foundation, The Sunlight Foundation and Wesleyan University.