Political Advertising in the 21st Century: The Rise of the YouTube Ad
30 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 4 Jul 2014
Date Written: August 23, 2010
This paper explores online political advertising in the form of digital videos posted on YouTube. Using a unique database of over 3,500 political ads posted on YouTube during the 2008 presidential campaign, it examines whether YouTube has allowed new actors to have an influence in electoral politics and whether ad creators are embracing new formats online or merely replicating traditional 30-second ads. It also examines the influence of YouTube advertising on election outcomes, both directly on voters and indirectly by setting the media’s agenda. We find that although most online ads use traditional formats and are posted by traditional actors, the most-viewed ads employ a wide variety of formats and were posted by both traditional and non-traditional political actors. Moreover, although people seem to recall new-style ads posted by everyday citizens and other internet-era groups, the news media’s focus is on 30-second ads designed for television.
Keywords: YouTube, 2008 presidential campaign, political advertising
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