Tavanapong and Sukul Awarded NSF Grant to Develop Computer Science Tools to Test Effectiveness of Online Campaign Advertising

October 11, 2017

Co-PI's Wallapak Tavanapong and Adisak Sukul, faculty with the Department of Computer Science, are part of the ISU interdisciplinary team which was awarded $529,776 from NSF to develop computer science tools to test the effectiveness of online campaign advertising. The research team also includes two faculty members from the Department of Political Science, David Peterson, and Olga Chyzh. Chyzh also has a split faculty assignment with the Department of Statistics.

Election campaigns serve an extremely important role in our democracy. The messages sent to voters help to define what elections will be about and how voters will ultimately choose. Two new advertising technologies -- the use of large amounts of data about individual voters and new online advertising platforms such as YouTube -- have the potential to revolutionize how campaigns are able to craft specific messages to appeal to individual voters. To date, however, there is no systematic evidence about the accuracy or effectiveness of targeting via online video advertising. This project will be the first to test how effectively campaigns can target voters with online advertising. The PIs will develop new computer science tools to capture and code the content of online advertising. This will allow the PIs to test a series of hypotheses about the effectiveness of targeting, the strategies used in online advertising, and the abilities of the rival campaigns to respond to one another. The interdisciplinary team will make its tools and data freely available to the research community, train students in both political science and computer science, and create mechanisms for real time tracking of advertising, which will be shared with leading media outlets.

For additional information about the award, please go to: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1729775

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