January 18, 2022

The Internet Archive’s New “Political TV Ad Archive” Now Live

UPDATE January 22 The Political TV Ad Archive is Now Live at PoliticalAdArchive.org

Some background from Gary Price (infoDOCKET Founder/Editor).

News of yet another very useful research tool from The Internet Archive (IA) and partners, The Political TV Ad Archive.

Some details below. The formal launch is tomorrow (Jan. 22nd) and we will update this post with additional links at that time and will also have more to say next week after we spend some time with this new video resource.

This is not the first searchable database of video material that the Internet Archive offers.

We also encourage you to visit/use the Television News Archive that provides keyword searchable access to video from tv news programs (free). The IA is also home to the September 11 Television Archive and many other video/film collections.

Finally, before today’s news from IA (bel0w), we want to point to this small roundup from October 2015 with info about a few (of many) web-accessible video resources (incl. the new American Archive of Public Broadcasting) and technologies.

2016-01-22_11-16-58New: The Political TV Ad Archive

Some Details From a News Release:

The Internet Archive will launch on January 22 the Political TV Ad Archive, an online, free digital library resource where reporters can find federal level political TV ads in key primary states in the 2016 elections, married with fact checking and information on the organizations funding the ads, and downloadable metadata.


The Political TV Ad Archive is monitoring television in 20 key markets in eight states, starting with such locations as Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City in Iowa, and Boston and Manchester in New England. The project is using experimental audio fingerprint technology to track political TV ads for federal races.

On the new website, journalists can find embeddable videos of the ads along with downloadable metadata giving them the scoop on which ads have aired, where, and when. Data will also include information on the sponsor whether it’s a super PAC, 501(c) group that does not disclose donors, candidates sponsored ad, or some other entity as well as the candidates targeted.

From a KnightBlog Post by Nancy Watzman (Managing Editor of the Television Archive)

Thanks to the support of the Knight News Challenge, our software architects, engineers, researchers, archivists, and more have been working around the clock to ready this new resource, the first of its kind. Building on the expertise garnered by software architect Tracey Jaquith and other staff in building our TV broadcast news library and in collecting political ads in the 2014 Philadelphia elections, we are monitoring television in 20 key markets in eight early primary states.

Dan Schultz, our lead software engineer on the new project, has created and is continuing to perfect an open source project we call the Duplitron. Schultz is a former Knight-Mozilla Fellow and a longtime innovator in technical applications of fact-checking. This system uses audio “fingerprints” of video created using audfprint, an open source resource developed by Dan Ellis at Columbia University. Once the fingerprints are generated, we can match them to identical audio fingerprints, and in doing so identify instances of a political TV ad playing on the air. We’ve just started, and already we’ve ingested more than 100,000 hours of television and identified more than 15,000 instances of ads blanketing Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond.

But this project is not just a feat of engineering. We are partnering with journalism groups that are expert in fact-checking and in following the money in politics: the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Responsive Politics, Factcheck.org, PolitiFact and the Washington Post’s Fact Checker. Their work will bring heft to the project, taking it beyond a mere collection of videos and helping give citizens context about who is really funding these ads and whether they contain truths, all-out lies, or something in between.

Read the Complete Blog Post

Follow the The Political TV Ad Archive on Twitter

See Also: 2016 Political Ad Tracker: Internet Archive
Info (incl. original proposal) about the project (via Knight News Challenge Grant Announcement)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.