CNN and Facebook launch 'Election Insights' powered by Mass Relevance

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

CNN and Facebook’s partnership for the election continues to unveil new products. The news giant and the publicly-traded social platform have just unveiled “Election Insights”, a real-time visualization that illustrates which candidates are being discussed the most on Facebook. We spoke with Mass Relevance (the social TV company powering the visualization) CEO Sam Decker about the app.

An interesting part about the Insights product is that it “will be used during CNN broadcasts, including regular segments on CNN’s ‘The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer’ as well as in and CNN Mobile campaign coverage,” the cable network explains. Back in 2008, the big Facebook election activation was the communal “like” to say that you voted — which has been updated with a new “I’m Voting” app on Facebook. It’s all part of CNN’s across-the-board Facebook partnership this year.

For Mass Relevance, “Election Insights” is a great example to show the social TV world how they are more than Twitter. Also, if you had any doubt that the company is invested in visualizations as much as they are data streams, look no further as Decker speaks to this as well.

Lost Remote: How is MR working with Facebook/CNN on this?

Sam Decker: CNN & Facebook tapped Mass Relevance to design and develop Election Insights. Our platform transforms aggregated FB data into a social experience that allows people to view trends about how many people are talking about each of the candidates across the United States and understand distinctions between who is talking about which candidates in those states – male vs. female, and by age group.

LR: Is Mass Relevance moving away from visualizations, except for special cases like this? Is your main business the streams?

Decker: No, visualizations are the heart of our business. Our platform enables our clients to present social data in a variety of ways that are most engaging to their users. In fact, you should expect some news from us in this area in the next couple months. Another example of our powerful visualizations was the work we recently did for NBC Sports around the Olympics.

LR: How did you design a visualization for this?

Decker: We took a number of requirements from CNN on how they would like to use this information and also looked at the data Facebook was able to send us. We then worked together to determine the top 4 components that we thought users would ultimately want to filter data by – Geography, Gender, Age, and Time. The visualization would need to pull double duty, both on the web and via broadcast on a “magic wall” – which created interesting challenges in terms of color usage and aspect ratio / screen real estate. We wanted to ensure that the data was also presented in a clear way that both a TV viewer – who would have the benefit of a CNN anchor to explain it to them – as well as a web visitor who would need to “figure things out for themselves.” In essence, we wanted to present a lot of interesting information with as little cognitive load as possible.

LR: Anything else?

Decker: We were able to work closely with Facebook to get access to the data needed to power such a unique experience. The ability to slice and dice the data leads to fascinating results for the end consumer.