The social media landscape is evolving at an accelerated pace this election season. Not only did Mitt Romney announce his running mate through the “Mitt’s VP” app but with the free app, Ad Hawk, produced by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, we can identify the sponsor of political ads on TV or the radio.
The app will be intuitive to Shazaam users- just open the app, touch the icon to begin, hold your smart phone up and identify the song as it plays. With AdHawk, instead of finding out the title and the artist of your new favorite tune, you will be told “how much money the ad’s sponsor received or spent, where the ad is on air and media reports about the candidate or political group.”
Continual updates from daily monitoring of political websites and accounts, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Election Commission (FEC) add to the app’s database of current campaigns and include cost and sponsor details, making this a one-stop shop for all political ad information.
Wonder what the Sunlight Foundation will be getting out of providing this service? They aim to better understand where ads are airing throughout the country by collecting the geo-location of app users, with permission, as ads are identified. It remains to be seen how this information will ultimately be used.
Will use of the app produce the surge of informed voters the Sunlight Foundation hopes for? I’m not sure, but increased transparency may provide a real opportunity to determine exactly who is spending money on political ads to influence elections.
One thing is certain, next time I am wondering who sponsored a political ad; I’ll pull up AdHawk, click “Identify This Ad” and have the answer.