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On line

A long line can, when you think about it, function as a sort of data visualization. But when it comes to, specifically, voting lines, it turns out the meaning of the data viz is in the eye of the beholder.

“Long queues to vote in the US have been celebrated by some of those who endured them as a welcome sign of enthusiasm,” the BBC reports. “But outside America, there was a different take.”

As images and video clips of long early-voting lines in the U.S. spread across traditional and social media globally this week, the BBC has been rounding up reactions:

One Canadian commenter in Ontario wrote that unlike in the US, a nonpartisan national commission runs the elections. Another Canadian wrote: “I’ve waited longer for a bus than I have ever waited to vote.”

A British man wrote: “Dear USA, I’m 58 and not once in my life have I had to queue to vote. Sort it out!”

Respondents in Norway, Germany and other European countries said there were numerous places to drop off ballots ahead of time and that unlike in the US, most polling locations were a short walk from home.

From Germany to Israel, people also reminded Americans that unlike in the US, voting occurs on holidays and weekends.

In Australia, some people said the queue to pick up the customary “Democracy Sausage” after the vote is often longer than the queue to vote itself.

Keep reading here.

Flashback:  “Smartphone Data Show Voters in Black Neighborhoods Wait Longer,” per Scientific American, Oct. 1, 2019 (!).

Look out

“With most stay-at-home orders in the United States now lifted, Americans are taking an increased notice of out-of-home advertising and engaging with their surroundings more as they venture back outdoors, according to a new study from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America and The Harris Poll,” Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft reports. “The new poll found 45% of Americans report noticing billboards, outdoor video screens, posters and other forms of OOH advertising more now than before the pandemic began, which should come as a sigh of relief for OOH marketers following the category’s grim outlook earlier this year.”

Keep reading here.

Mad rent

“Madison Avenue” persists as shorthand for the ad industry, dating back to the “Mad Men” era when a bunch of high-profile agencies clustered on and around the famous Manhattan thoroughfare. But for a lot of New Yorkers (and tourists) these days, Madison Avenue is mostly just a destination for luxury retail. And the reality is that that version of Madison Avenue is having a really hard time right now.

“Retail rents on Madison Avenue are plunging as the pandemic hammers Manhattan’s most popular shopping districts,” Bloomberg News reports. “The high-end shopping corridor, home to luxury brands and swanky boutiques, saw a 17% decline in rent in the third quarter. At an average of $779 a square foot, the price is down 52% from the peak over the past five years, according to the brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.”

Keep reading here.

The upside of tough times

Ad Age Datacenter’s Bradley Johnson has authored “Downtime Opportunity,” a 56-page white paper that examines marketing, product and media innovation in the worst of times from the Great Depression to the great coronavirus pandemic. Conclusion: Economic downturns reset the table for marketers and media, creating new rules, opportunities and brands. The report is available as a free download for Ad Age Insider and Ad Age Datacenter subscribers (or for purchase by everyone else) at

Click for the quick take:  “How marketing can thrive in the worst of times.”

When it rains in Downtown L.A.

This just in (this morning) from Nate Silver’s data-obsessed site FiveThirtyEight:

President Trump is running out of time. Joe Biden leads by double digits in national polls, and state-level polling is only slightly closer. In fact, Biden’s lead is so large, traditionally red states like Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas might now go blue. ... Still, Trump has a meaningful chance per our forecast—a little worse than the chances of rolling a 1 on a six-sided die and a little better than the chances that it’s raining in downtown Los Angeles. And remember, it does rain there. (Downtown L.A. has about 36 rainy days per year, or about 1 in 10 days.)

Keep reading here—and be sure to check out (via that same link) FiveThirtyEight’s state-by-state predictions, and the results of its meta-analysis based on running simulations of the election 40,000 times.


“More people watched Biden on ABC than Trump on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC,” per CNN.

This morning, when early TV ratings numbers were released for President Donald Trump’s and former Vice President Joe Biden’s competing Thursday-night town halls on, respectively, NBC and ABC, Biden was beating Trump. But there was some speculation that once Trump’s simulcast TV numbers were factored in—his big show ran on MSNBC and CNBC in addition to NBC, whereas Biden aired only on ABC—that Trump might pull ahead. That doesn’t seem to have happened.

Here’s one clue why, via Inscape, which has shared the chart below exclusively with Datacenter Weekly: Basically, when Trump’s town hall came on MSNBC—which, of course, is known for its lineup of liberal primetime talk shows—a lot of viewers just bailed (with many of them, presumably, switching over to ABC). And then, once Trump was off MSNBC’s air, they came right back.