MEDL Mobile

Hyper-Personalized Political Campaigns

october 26, 2020

Digital Voting illustration

Have you been receiving political text messages, phone calls, emails that are somehow hyper-personalized? Political groups intentionally employ strategies that involve utilizing your data and targeting you via multiple platforms to reinforce a stronger message.

Political campaign ads 

Political campaigns utilize personal information and data from supporters and potential voters, aiming to nudge their vote for the advertised candidates. Throughout the years, the usage of digital campaigns has increased tremendously. In 2008, candidates spent a total of $22.25 million on online political ads. During the 2019- 2020 election, political campaigns and groups will spend $1.3 billion on online ads. As there is a surge with social media ad spending, there is an increasing impact on the choices of votes that can be a game changer.

What are the sources of campaign data?

The sources are categorized into four categories including free data disclosed by individuals, free inferred data, purchased data disclosed by individuals, and purchased inferred data.

Free data disclosed by individuals

Free data disclosed by individuals refers to official state records such as the names of those who are registered to vote, dates of birth and addresses. This also includes data gathered through surveys which provide information about individuals’ preferences. These resources are available to campaigners at no cost.

Free inferred data 

In research conducted by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Canada, they describe how party canvassers can make inferences by simply obtaining information regarding ethnicity, age, gender, and the extent of party support. Suppositions can be made about an individual’s broader interest by analyzing data from campaigns as well.

Purchased data disclosed by individuals

Purchased data disclosed by individuals include social media data and commercial data.

Although the data are not disclosed directly to the campaigners, they can still obtain data like magazine subscription lists by purchasing it from third parties.

Purchased inferred data

This type of data refers to the look-a-like audience matching, and data modeling. The modelled data is created by the inferences made from the available data. With purchased inferred data, polling data and commercially available insights are usually utilized.

How can data create an advantage?

While we utilize many interconnected apps and smart devices, political groups have access to data regarding our emotional state and views on certain issues. They can combine multiple sources together and attach their own data sets to it. Models can be built to help determine what motivates and discourages voters; A/B testing is utilized to make the models stronger in identifying which individuals are sensitive to what particular issue. Doing this allows political groups to come up with different messages that matter to each individual.

There is great controversy over the amount of data these digital campaigns have of us. In fact, people don’t even know what information they have of us.

What are some ways to secure your private information:

  • Browse the internet privately

  • Encrypt your Internet connection with a VPN

  • Be mindful of what you post on social media or online

  • Do not share personal information with political campaigns

  • Configure your privacy settings on Google

  • Be careful of the apps you download on your devices

As founding members of the Developer Trust Alliance, MEDL Mobile upholds the principles of respecting user privacy and safety. Developer Trust Alliance encourages privacy practices and raising industry standards to obtain a higher level of trust in their products and services. If you need help getting your digital product or service off the ground, contact us for a free consultation at info@medlmobile.com.

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