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This Ad's for You (Not Your Neighbor)


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Savvy candidates and advocacy groups are flooding streaming services with ads in an effort to reach cord-cutters and “cord nevers,” people who have never watched traditional cable or broadcast TV.

Credit: Pete Gamlen

Over the last few weeks, tens of thousands of voters in the Detroit area who watch streaming video services were shown different local campaign ads pegged to their political leanings.

Digital consultants working for Representative Darrin Camilleri, a Democrat in the Michigan House who is running for State Senate, targeted 62,402 moderate, female — and likely pro-choice — voters with an ad promoting reproductive rights.

The campaign also ran a more general video ad for Mr. Camilleri, a former public-school teacher, directed at 77,836 Democrats and Independents who have voted in past midterm elections. Viewers in Mr. Camilleri's target audience saw the messages while watching shows on Lifetime, Vice and other channels on ad-supported streaming services like Samsung TV Plus and LG Channels.

Although millions of American voters may not be aware of it, the powerful data-mining techniques that campaigns routinely use to tailor political ads to consumers on sites and apps are making the leap to streaming video. The targeting has become so precise that next door neighbors streaming the same true crime show on the same streaming service may now be shown different political ads — based on data about their voting record, party affiliation, age, gender, race or ethnicity, estimated home value, shopping habits or views on gun control.

From The New York Times
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