Big Brother Is “Micro-Targeting” You

Written by Kim Chapman – Account Executive

Political parties have been using marketing tactics for as long politics have existed. After all, isn’t a political campaign the act of marketing yourself to your audience?

One really smart way that parties have been marketing themselves in recent years is through the use of micro-targeting. Essentially, this is a fancy word for political parties using data to market at a more targeted level.

A lot of this work is done by campaign consultant groups. Not only are these groups collecting consumer data from data-housing companies, they are also merging this data with voter registration records. These records include important information: whether someone is a registered voter, with what party they are registered, and how often they have voted in past elections.

Some fun findings can come from this. For example, did you know that people who watch 30 Rock and drink Molson are more likely to be Democrat. Those who drink Coors Light and watch NCIS sway right. Findings like this, and endless others, are very valuable to parties, though.

Political parties can use different avenues to market in this niche way. Traditional direct mail is one. Another is web, through the use of cookies. When governor Chris Christie was running for office back in 2009, he was accused of supporting cutting health care coverage for mammograms. To counter this bad press, he placed a video ad on the web of him sitting at the kitchen table with his wife, talking about his mother’s battle with breast cancer. And who did he target? Female republicans searching for information about breast cancer.

There are many messages to think about when it comes to micro-targeting. For instance: No two members of the Republican Party, or democrat for that matter, are the same. One may be nearing retirement, while the other a recent new business owner. A democrat who is a committed party member is not the same as one who usually votes democrat, but has not registered as one yet. All of these audiences should be communicated with differently.

So it might be smart if President Obama or Mr. Romney spend a little less money (and time) on their campaign trail, making over-arching speeches to groups of people, and put more of their money into micro-targeting.

This form of marketing has gotten some criticism over the years, and will continue to as it is used more and more. One of the complaints is that limiting the political messaging to registered voters is social discrimination. Hmmm, really?? Last time I checked, if you are a citizen of the United States over the age of 18, live in some sort of permanent structure, and aren’t a serial killer, you can register to vote. (In fact, I think serial killers can vote, depending on the state.) Social discrimination? More like invasion of privacy. But that doesn’t bother me. In fact, the next time I am on the NRA’s website and an ad for Mitt Romney promoting gun rights magically appears, I’ll just smile and know that big brother definitely is watching over me. (Oh, and wants my vote.)