Music and Politics

Music streaming site Pandora is claiming that it can tell how their listeners will vote according to the music they like.  They plan to use this information to sell political advertising.

Why would candidates buy advertising to attract voters who already are likely to vote for them?

At any rate, after the jump, read how internet sites are trying to get into your head so as to target you for advertisers.

And then we can play a game.  What are some politically conservative songs?  What are some politically liberal songs?

From Pandora Knows How You’ll Vote, and It’s Not Keeping Your Secret – NationalJournal.com:

Sick of campaign ads on the radio? Don’t plan on turning to Pandora to get a break from this fall’s election-commercial frenzy.

The music streaming service announced last week it is launching targeted advertising—allowing candidates to reach voters based on age, location, and music preference. According to Pandora, that information can tell with 75-80 percent accuracy how a person will vote.

“What we’re trying to do is make it so that the targeting that’s selected by these campaigns is … reaching the right groups,” said Pandora’s Jack Krawczyk. The company’s advertising system weights its results based on users’ ZIP codes; an area that voted 60 percent for Obama will have that factored into its residents’ voting probabilities.

Then Pandora looks at your music. Listen to a lot of country? You’re probably a strong Republican voter. Prefer jazz? You likely vote Democrat. Classic rock or hip-hop? Well, you’re a little harder to pin down—but that might be just what ad-makers are looking for.

Pandora is the latest content provider to try to cash in on political operatives’ desire for precision messaging. DirecTV and Dish Network are offering “addressable advertising” for statewide campaigns, allowing candidates to tailor a message down to the neighborhood level.

But just because an algorithm thinks it knows how you’ll vote, do you really want to get bombarded with campaign ads for your (probable) candidate of choice? Do you lay off the hip-hop so the computer doesn’t identify you as a coveted swing voter?

It’s not that Pandora hasn’t played host to campaign ads before. But the voter targeting makes it more likely campaigns will look to it as a worthwhile advertising investment. The more a campaign knows about you, the harder it’s willing to work to pursue your vote—more knowledge gives operatives a better idea of where they’re investing their money.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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