The App War, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 23 2012 @ 5:09pm


While Obama and Romney campaigns face criticism over their apps being too invasive of users' privacy, two new apps are now available from non-political groups to help voters decipher who is behind all the political ads out there, especially when it comes to outside spenders. Ad Hawk, from the Sunlight Foundation, and Super PAC App, from Glassy Media, both use a Shazam-like technology to identify the ads and then provide info about them and their backers. Here's how Ad Hawk works:

When you press the "Identify this ad" button, Ad Hawk starts listening to the audio coming into your mobile phone. The app creates a short digital fingerprint to compare against the database of hundreds of political ads we collect. If the audio fingerprint finds a match, we send you the information collected in our database about the sponsor of the ad and other details such as money received or spent, where the ad is on the air, media reports on the political group or ad and places to find more information Sunlight identifies new ads by monitoring media reports and the YouTube channels of political groups and campaigns. We research and pair these new ads with Federal Communications Commission data on ad spending, Federal Election Commission data on political contributions, press releases about ad buys and relevant news articles.

By the way, about that Romney app that promised to give its users VIP access to the veep announcement:

Although the app failed to scoop the press on the news about Rep. Paul Ryan, it did generate 100,000 "likes" on the Romney campaign's Facebook page, [Romney campaign Digital Director Zac] Moffatt says, while gathering e-mail addresses and other data on potential supporters. The campaign has been mum on how it is going to retool its Mitt's VP app for the general-election drive, but Moffatt says he has a plan. "I wouldn't be much of a digital director otherwise," he says. … In the 2012 cycle, Moffatt says, digital has seen a transformation from a "base list-building and fundraising effort" to "becoming a persuasion and mobilization tool." In 2008, digital strategy was not a major piece of Romney's primary-election bid. Now, Moffatt says, the numbers make it impossible to ignore.