Posted by: paulfbove | July 28, 2008

Micro-, Macro-, and Corporate Targeting and Datamining. Obama knows where you live.

So Obama and his people know everything that you do. Actually, McCain and his people know what you do too. Don’t be scared though. They only want to help you. Microtargeting and datamining, similar, but not exactly the same, are nothing new. Politicking has really embraced datamining and targeting so they can try to get your vote, and/or your contribution, but the practice has been used for years, by all kinds of industries. As discussed in Applebee’s America, casino’s do it too. Through the use of loyalty cards, Harrah’s Casino used targeting to learn about and market to its customers

Harrahs’s knows all customer’s age, sex, zip code, and other demographics, as well as how much they bet and win when they play in the casino. It’s LifeTargeting Vegas-style (p. 75).

So all of this data gets crunched, analyzed, and used to help whomever is requesting the information. And it keeps getting bigger and bigger. As the article states

The 5 million people on Obama’s e-mail list are just the start of what political strategists say is one of the most sophisticated voter databases ever built. . . . . It’s an ambitious melding of corporate marketing and grassroots organizing that the Obama campaign sees as a key to winning this fall.

This giant database will allow strategists to target and drill down as deep as they want to find out every little habit and custom of any group of people.

By collecting their own data, then bouncing it against publicly available information like Census reports, voter registration files and other databases, Obama aides can slice the electorate up almost any way they want.

I’ve read the various studies that state that, “a white male from Sheboygan with a masters degree will drink Miller High Life while listening to the Stones.” (I just made that up, but it might be true.) And while I might see some patterns that fit me, I honestly believe that microtargeting does not have a fix on me just yet. Must be those aliases I use. There’s micotargetting, and then there’s WOW microtargetting

For example, aides can track what time you open e-mails from them, and if you show a consistent pattern, they’ll start sending them at around that time of day. “The marginal benefit of sending some people an email at 2 o’clock vs. 3 o’clock vs. 4 o’clock might not make sense [at first],” said Michael Bassik, a Democratic consultant with MSHC Partners.

When the campaign knows what time I open my email, that’s when it gets a little scary to me. And it definitely appears that the Obama people are really perfecting the capabilities of targeting. Though it’s been used before by other campaigns and corporations, there is a new depth that most people probably never would have fathomed. Which kind of makes me scared for what the future might bring!

“It’s not an innovative campaign, but it’s an extraordinarily professional one,” said Zephyr Teachout, who ran Dean‘s online organizing. “They’ve taken all our stupid ideas and made them smart.”

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