The Washington Post featured an article last Friday entitled: "Coming Soon: Personalized Campaign Ads", by Samantha Gross. She projects personalized political ads available via major MSO's (specifically, Comcast) within the next two years:
"Imagine: You turn on the TV and see a campaign ad. Your neighbor down the hall, watching the same channel at the same moment, sees a different ad selected for her in part because she's Hispanic, single, owns a dog and drinks Bud Light...In short, voters' race, income, marital status and favorite brands could soon determine exactly what they learn about political candidates while watching cable TV.
...[T]he technology could...allow candidates to make...subtle adjustments to their mannerisms, speech patterns and appearance. In theory, a voter originally from the South could hear a candidate speak with a hint of a drawl. A dog owner could be shown a glimpse of the candidate's family with their pet.
Such manipulations are hardly new in politics, but the ability to bring such intensive targeting to television could give the candidates added leverage - and raise new questions about their authenticity."
Wow - inauthentic statements made by candidates? That would be a first.
Addressable advertising already exists online, via registration info, IP addresses and 'behavioral targeting'. The migration of these capabilities into broadcast opportunities is a logical evolution. And interestingly, the very technology that enables this targeting and manipulation may help us spot the more egregious pandering more easily:
"The degree to which candidates can vary their messages is likely to be limited by an increasingly watchful blogosphere, says Tobe Berkovitz, an advertising professor who teaches political campaigning at Boston University. "That's the thing about this modern, interactive, blogged, YouTubed environment," he says. "You can't send messages that conflict."