A Research Agenda for Online Advertising: Surveying Campaign Practices, 2000-2012

Lisa Barnard, Daniel Kreiss


This article traces the development of online political advertising across four presidential election cycles (2000–2012) to outline an agenda for scholarly research. In 2000, campaigns purchased banner advertisements on sites such as AOL.com. In 2004, campaigns engaged in search engine advertising and piloted much of the data-driven practice of targeting and measuring returns that is standard today. In 2008, the Obama campaign pioneered online advertising designed to find and mobilize supporters and convince undecided voters. In 2012, campaigns began integrating online data with voter files, expanding their ability to target communications based on models of voter attitudes and behavior. Drawing on these empirical findings, we suggest an agenda for research into the processes and effects of online political advertising.

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