Tracing Ad Campaigns On Television News: MyPillow

How can we use OCR data to track television news advertising campaigns? The timeline below shows the total seconds of daily airtime across CNN, MSNBC and Fox News in which "" was displayed somewhere in the onscreen text. Ads ramped up in July and August 2020, largely disappeared for the week after Christmas and have remained fairly steady thus far in 2021. Nearly all of its advertising has been on Fox News.

The station breakdown below shows just how strongly this ad campaign has favored Fox News, with MyPillow ads running for more than 90 hours over the past year and a half, compared with 3.8 hours on MSNBC and 2.89 hours on CNN.

As the show breakdown below illustrates, more than 21% of the ad runtime was on Tucker Carlson Tonight, with another 10% on Hannity, showing the focus on personality-driven shows.

In the case of MyPillow ads, the "" URL appears during the majority of the ad's runtime, meaning the numbers above largely reflect the total airtime of the ads, whereas other ad campaigns often display URLs or other uniquely identifying information only during the last few seconds of each airtime, meaning OCR-based airtime counts have to be extrapolated to estimate the total airtime of the ads.

We hope this shows you how to examine ad campaigns on television news using OCR data.