What’s a political ad-maker to do in an environment where voters can easily avoid any campaign spot that comes their way? I Agree To See aims to find those who seek out political content voluntarily and make sure they do indeed see it.
Storefront Political Media, a Democratic consulting firm based in San Francisco, launched the experimental project in August 2013. Bringing political junkies directly to the source makes much more sense, Storefront founder Eric Jaye asserted, rather than spreading money around expensive media markets with little guarantee of success.
“When ads come on [television], that’s when people get up to go to the refrigerator or elsewhere,” Jaye said of the natural tendency to tune out commercials. “So you don’t even know if you’re getting the audience that you’re paying for.” Capturing eyeballs is even tougher today, he estimated, because the marketplace is migrating from traditional outlets to mobile platforms and social media.
“The audience is out, they’re blocking us and they’re very skeptical,” Jaye said of the challenges his industry is grappling with.
The folks finding their way to I Agree to See — Jaye pegged the roster of regular users at around 250,000 — are privy to a growing universe of promotional footage. The video collection is broken up into seven categories: featured ads, 2016, funny spots, attack ads, outrageous ads, feast your eyes on this (pop culture oriented) and world roundup.
Jaye said they’ve collected thousands of ads for races ranging from the presidential campaign to down-ballot contests.
While the average spot lasts about 30 seconds, Jaye said I Agree users tend to linger much longer.
“The average engagement on our site is 10 times that,” he calculated.
I Agree members, Jaye argued, are also much more plugged into the political process than casual observers.
“By virtue of the fact that they are opting in, they’re not like the average voter,” he said, characterizing the participants as swing voters, intensive researchers and political “influencers” who friends and family often turn to for advice.
Broadcast media, including web ads and materials culled from direct mail campaigns, populate most of the existing content. Jaye said project managers are exploring the possibility of adding position papers into the mix.
“We propose to be as comprehensive as possible,” Jaye said.
Jaye said keeping I Agree users interested remains a work in progress.
He said there’s been a noticeable uptick in traffic with each successive nominating contest. “It can be very event driven. But we’ve been pleased to see a return audience,” Jaye said of the core constituency.
Jaye expects new features to be unveiled in the coming weeks. And with presidential primaries continuing, he’s looking forward to welcoming even more of the political faithful to the fold as the election rolls on.
“It’s got a national reach at this point — and it’s growing,” Jaye said.
Some other places on the Internet that collect political ads for the viewing include:
- Political TV Ad Archive: a collaboration between the Internet Archive, American Press Institute, Center for Responsive Politics, Center for Public Integrity, Duke Reporters’ Lab, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and Washington Post’s Fact Checker tracking modern political ads.
- Honest Ads: nonprofit group that scrutinizes political advertising.
- The Living Room Candidate: archive of political ads from every presidential election dating back to 1952.
- Political Communication Lab: archive of presidential and gubernatorial ads curated by Stanford University.
Directors lead audience members in raucous chants, urge everyone to flail wildly around and crack tons of corny jokes to keep supporters amped up about sending House hopeful Dick Simpson to Congress in 1992. (But alas, he failed to knock off incumbent Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., that fall).
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