Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Invention of the Day: the Political Cookie.

From the June 27 MIT Review:
Cookies are short bits of code that identify a person's browser. With the help of advertising exchanges and media partners, a political campaign can use cookies to serve specific ads to, for example, all registered 50- to 60-year-old male Democrats in Pennsylvania's 6th district who are frequent voters and care about the environment. A campaign could even see whether specific individuals click on the ad and what they do once on its landing page.

The firm gathers publicly available voter files from all 50 states and supplements this with records of political donations and other profiles purchased from commercial data brokers, says CEO Jeff Dittus. Then, working with about 100 high-traffic websites that register their users, they can match the offline data to the online identities of individuals.

TV ads are expensive because
a) broadcasters have to buy content to attract viewers;
b) the ads also poorly targeted because they don't necessarily know who is watching what.

The Political Cookie solves this problem because
a) on the web the content is cheap due to the fact that users create it themselves;
b) the ads are precisely targeted because sites and apps know exactly who's is watching what.

As the result, the politicians get the best of both worlds. Now, we need to figure out what the voters get.

tags: problem, solution, trade-off, internet, control, aboutness

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