Why Am I Seeing This Ad? An analysis of New West election ads on Facebook

If you’re on Facebook, you see ads. They slip into your feed with a little “sponsored” note underneath the ad author. Given it’s election season in New Westminster, if you’ve identified yourself as having anything to do with New Westminster you’ll get political ads for the various mayoral, city council, and school trustee candidates.

For every ad that’s on Facebook you can find out why you’re being shown the ad. Click on the three dots at the top right, then select “Why Am I Seeing This Ad?” and you’ll see the demographics that are being targeted with that specific ad.

I’ve done this for the New West political ads I’ve been shown, and here’s what I’ve seen:

Jonathan X. Cote

A couple of weeks ago I saw some of Jonathan Cote’s ads targeting people living in New Westminster who are older than 25. Unfortunately I neglected to get a screenshot. Since then it appears that he’s broadened his target demographic to people who are older than 18 who live in British Columbia.

New West Progressives

The New West Progressives are consistently targeting people near their business, and those who are older than 30 and live near New Westminster.

Chinu Das

Chinu Das’ ad campaigns are focused on people who like their page people aged 18 and older who live near New Westminster.

Patrick Johnstone

Patrick Johnstone’s campaigns target people aged 19 and older who live near New Westminster.

Nadine Nakagawa

Nadine Nakagawa’s campaigns focus on people aged 18 and older who live near New Westminster.

Mark Gifford

Mark Gifford’s campaigns focus on people interested in Education and (and I seem to be repeating myself here) people aged 18 and older who live near New Westminster.

Gurveen Dhaliwal

Gurveen Dhaliwal’s ads are being shown to, you guessed it, people aged 18 and older who live near New Westminster.

Caveats and Notes

I’m 42 and I live in New Westminster. I fall in all of the demographics listed, which is kind of obvious or else I wouldn’t be seeing the ads. There may be other more specific targeted campaigns that aren’t listed here (like the New West Progressives might have one targeting people younger than 30).

The voting age in British Columbia municipal elections is 18.

Patrick Johnstone answered my questions!

Patrick Johnstone is running for New Westminster City Council, and he answered my questions!

1. There are two types of people in the world: people who like simple pop-culture “what type of cheese are you” quizzes that they can then share on Facebook, and people who don’t. Sadly, I don’t have a quiz for you but this is close enough: are you an order muppet or a chaos muppet? Which muppet are you?

Patrick: I used to think I was an order muppet, then I met Antigone, which convinced me I am the chaos muppet, until I got elected to Council, when I was re-convinced that I am an order muppet, though the answer to this question may indicate otherwise.

2. When was the last time you visited City Hall? What changes would you propose to make City Hall more welcoming? When was the last time you attended a City Council meeting? What changes would you propose to make City Council meetings more welcoming? Sorry, I guess that was kind of four questions.

Today. (Editor’s note: Patrick sent me the answers on September 21 and this post is being published on September 22.)

I think it is welcoming, though we have some accessibility issues that only an expensive major renovation will fix.

Last Monday.

I have several ideas in my Engaged City platform about shifting how public engagement and Public Hearings work, but I think Council needs to be more diverse, we need to work more on speaking in plain language in both council and in our official communications. And freezies. (That was 4 questions).

3. Buy Low Foods recently shut its store in Uptown, leaving a hole in the market for grocery stores. What will you do to ensure that there is proper competition among grocery stores and a Save-On Foods opens in that location, restoring the competitive marketplace that the Competition Bureau foisted upon us in 2014?

There will be no rest until every building in New Westminster contains a Save on Foods. Yes, including your house. Resistance is futile.

4. New Westminster has a number of advisory committees, task forces, and working groups. Upon being elected, which one would you like to chair the most and why? No need to restrict yourself to an existing one either, if you feel strongly that a new one needs to be formed (that you’d obviously chair) feel free to answer that!

ACTBiPed. We are making progress on active transportation policy, but we need to keep pushing to get more of our budget directed towards modernizing our transportation network. Building infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users (and emergent technologies like electric scooters) need to be a top priority for the City.

5. What is your favourite neighbourhood, and why is it Brow of the Hill?

Because I live in the Brow. I love being a 5 minute walk to everywhere (shopping, SkyTrain, City Hall), and I love the variety of housing and my diverse neighbours!

6. The process leading up to and including the public hearing for the temporary modular housing in Queensborough was… challenging, to say the least. This question is only for the non-incumbent candidates: on the final motion to amend the OCP and rezone the property to allow the temporary modular housing, how would you have voted? Please note that you may describe why you would have voted a particular way, but you must say whether you would have voted in favour of or against the motion on the table.

I voted for it.

7. Who would be on your sasquatch hunting team?

Steve Austin, Raoul Duke, and Carl Sagan. And Peter Sagan.

8. How do you propose engaging with renters, new immigrants, and youth?

By creating space and opportunities for them to engage, by meeting them on their own turf, and by seeking out and eliminating the barriers to their participation in civic affairs. For example, I think we need a Renters Association in the City on the same model as Residents’ Associations.

9. With absolutely no apologies to Chris Campbell, what would your entrance music be? Please note that if you dare pick We Built This City by Starship you are hereby banned from ever running for public office ever again.

The National Anthem by Radiohead. I’m back to being a chaos muppet I think.

Thank you Patrick!

Questions for New Westminster mayoral candidates

New Westminster is going to have an election on November 15, 2014, for mayor, city councillor, and school board trustee positions. There are four men running for mayor: current mayor Wayne Wright, current city councillor Jonathan X. Cote, local businessman James Crosty, and electrical engineer Vladimir Krasnogor. I have some questions for them. In fact, any of the people running for councillor can answer these too.

All Candidates

  1. Supporting and growing local businesses will help keep jobs in New Westminster, grow our tax base, provide opportunity for New Westminster citizens to live and work in New Westminster, and bring more people to our fair city. A wide range of businesses is also good for a city, as it diversifies the tax base and does not make us reliant upon any one industry. As mayor, what will you do to bring more Save On Foods grocery stores to New Westminster?
  2. The Bailey Bridge was a source of contention between New Westminster and Coquitlam in 2014. As mayor, what will you do to piss off Coquitlam in 2015?
  3. Fallen leaves from trees are a menace to the walkability of New Westminster, creating slippery sidewalks and clogging our storm drains. What will you do to rid New Westminster of this scourge? Patrick Johnstone, you’re ineligible to answer this question because we all know you love the trees. Okay, here, if you want to answer a question for #3 here goes: If you love trees so much why don’t you marry one?
  4. Without using Google, what are the eleven neighbourhoods of New Westminster? Yeah, eleven. I had no idea there were that many. Don’t forget Connaught Heights, everybody forgets them. At least they have a SkyTrain station! Okay, what are the other ten neighbourhoods of New Westminster?
  5. Speaking of the neighbourhoods of New Westminster, which is your favourite and why is it Sapperton?
  6. Why have none of you developed your websites with Of Desks, one of New Westminster’s finest web design and development companies? (Psst, Wes, you can get me a growler from S&O next time I see you)

Wayne Wright

  1. Your website lists your accomplishments without saying what you will do in the coming four years. Should we take this to mean that you’re going to bulldoze everything you’ve done and do it again?

Jonathan X. Cote

  1. It’s been shown that using a middle initial makes you look smarter. As the only candidate to use his middle initial in this campaign, why do you need this advantage? What are you hiding?
  2. Much ink has been spilled about The Machine that runs your campaign. What fuels The Machine — gas, solar power, or the tears of your vanquished opponents?

James Crosty

  1. As mayor, will you learn how to properly reference someone on Twitter by using the @ symbol in front of their name?

Vladimir Krasnogor

  1. What do you have against machines? Are stocking frames safe in New Westminster under your mayoralty?

Answers can be sent to me at brad.cavanagh@gmail.com or, if you’re James Crosty, you’ll probably tweet them to me anyways at @CanSpice. I fully expect none of you will respond, but be warned that I’ll put your responses up here when I get them!

Update: A number of candidates have answered these questions: