Super PAC App: The Shazam for Political Attack Ads

Aug 22, 2012 2:00pm
ht superpac app ll 120822 wblog Super PAC App: The Shazam for Political Attack Ads

Image credit: Glassy Media

By its title alone you’d think the Super PAC App was just a boring digital list of all the Super PACs or the groups supporting this years’ presidential candidates. (Although this list of these oddly named Super PACs is far from boring.)

But no, the app is like the Shazam (the popular music recognition app) for political attack ads.

Download the app, which is available for the iPhone and iPad only, hold it up to the TV when an attack ad is playing, and using audio fingerprinting it will pull up information about the ad, including what super PAC paid for it, how much money it has raised, how much the super PAC has spent, and information about the claims in the ad. You can then vote on the ad yourself.

The app is the brainchild of Dan Siegel and Jennifer Hollett, the founders of Glassy Media, a digital production company that started at the MIT Media Lab. The two say they wanted to give voters more information about the ads that will be coming at them this election season, and thought the smartphone was the perfect tool to help.

“Millions of dollars are being poured into TV advertising this election by super PACs, and we wanted to create an app that could respond to that,” Hollett told ABC News. “Super PAC App turns a one-way broadcast into two-way engagement.”

The company partnered with TuneSat to provide the audio technology in the app, and then built its own database of presidential ads to match what you hear with what appears on your smartphone’s screen.

“We have a database of all the presidential ads run to date; it is living and breathing database that is growing by the hour,” Siegel said.

The database is being populated by regular people and web crawlers visiting different YouTube channels of super PACs. Siegel and
Hollett say they are confident that they will be able to keep up with all the ads that air so the app won’t come up empty-handed when you hold up your phone to the bigger screen.

The app is available today in the Apple App Store; there’s no Android app, though the company says it is continuing to work on new features.

Hollett

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