An ad from the music website asks listeners to share their email addresses with the Republican campaign
North Carolina resident Crystal Harris was listening to Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)” when an ad appeared on her iPhone screen, followed by a pop-up message.
“To help Mitt Romney become the next president, Romney for President, Inc would like to use your email address — tap OK to let Pandora share this info,” the message read.
Harris took a screenshot of the request and tweeted it with a one-word comment: #fail.
“Don’t harass me on my email. Don’t stalk me on the apps that I use. To me, that just crossed the line,” Harris said in an interview with ProPublica.
Pandora’s targeted email sharing pitch isn’t new, but it’s being offered to political advertisers for the first time this year, a company spokeswoman said. Both Democrats and Republicans, and both local and national campaigns have used the service to collect voter emails.
It’s among the latest in a series of increasingly sophisticated tactics that campaigns are using to target narrow groups of voters online — from sending ads to Internet users who have visited a candidate’s website, to creating a mobile app for campaign volunteers that marks the names and addresses of nearby voters on a Google map.
In the case of the Pandora ad, it’s not clear why the Romney pop-up appeared on Harris’ screen — whether she was targeted, because, for instance, she lives in a swing state, or because she was listening to Garth Brooks.
Pandora, which would not comment on any client’s particular strategy, offers both these kinds of targeting: Campaigns can send ads to particular listeners based on their favorite artist or type of music, as well as by their age, gender and state, county or congressional district.
Pandora said the email sharing feature simply gives listeners what they want. “Sometimes, a listener wants to learn more about a product that’s being advertised on Pandora, whether it’s a car, a movie, or a political candidate,” said Sean Duggan, Pandora’s vice president of advertising, in an emailed statement. “On mobile, in particular, we offer many ways for a listener to do this: tapping on a banner ad, tap-to-email, tap-to-call or even opting-in to receive emails from the advertiser.”
“Pandora does not make public or share a user’s registration information with third-parties without the user’s explicit consent,” Duggan said.
A Pandora spokeswoman added that the email sharing was “triple opt-in,” since users have to click on the ad, then click OK, before Pandora shares their emails with a campaign or other advertiser.
Users who get emails from a campaign or advertiser always have the option to unsubscribe, the spokeswoman said.
The Romney campaign did not return a request for comment on the ad.
There is evidence that the Romney campaign pays attention to the musical taste of potential supporters. Earlier this year, the campaign told the New York Times that their online targeting research had revealed that people who like jazz were less likely to respond to their online ads.
Harris, who said she’s a registered Democrat, was listening to Pandora on an afternoon run when she received several Romney ads in a row — as well as a Pandora ad for the Obama campaign. Pandora said it was extremely rare for users to receive the same ad multiple times in a short period.
Harris said she loves Pandora but that political ads may convince her to upgrade to an ad-free version of the service.
Let us know if you’ve seen a targeted political ad on Pandora. Email us or send a screenshot to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Related Stories
- The Senate's Lincoln moment
- Los Angeles elects first Jewish mayor
- Peter King: There's "hypocrisy" over aid by Oklahoma senators
- Anthony Weiner announces run for NYC mayor
- Why Democrats abandoned LGBT immigrants
- On freedom of speech, Obama-Nixon comparisons are apt
- Senate panel approves immigration overhaul
- Slave descendants seek equal rights from Cherokee Nation
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Is abortion about to doom Republicans again?
- Anti-voter-fraud Tea Party group sues the IRS
- The Bachmann-inspired romance novel
- Nate Silver: Why the scandals aren't hurting Obama
- How to oust Michele Bachmann from Congress
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Who is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford?
- Colorado judge rules Abercrombie parent company violates Disabilities Act
- When America became a third-world country
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- It's Whitewater all over again
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11