Online Habits And Political Views

Have your online habits had an effect on your political views?

Have you ever filled in a ‘personality survey‘ online? These are usually just a bit of fun to share among friends but did you know that surveys like this have been used to elect Trump and secure Brexit?

The approach is called Psychometric Profiling and when combined with Big Data unleashes a powerful method of targeting tailored messages to smaller and smaller groups of people – telling them just what they want to hear, just at the right time. During Trump’s election campaign there were over 175,000 variations of a single Facebook Ad made to ensure a particular message hit home [Source: Motherboard].

The science behind this is based on a well-established theory that people can be reasonably well described by varying levels of five characteristics – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism – or OCEAN for short.

Before Social Media came along, scientists were able to broadly define people along these lines, but they never had a big enough data set to really zoom in on specific traits. Then along came Facebook and fun surveys and the (now removed) ability to see everyone’s likes, suddenly gave researchers the power to make stunningly accurate predictions about how certain types of people behave. It wasn’t long until this was used by digital marketing agencies to trigger reactions in an audience – reactions that could be entirely and accurately predicted. This was used to great effect in the recent presidential elections and the Brexit vote. Perhaps you remember seeing an Online Ad during the Brexit campaign? Did you realise how tightly targeted towards your specific views it may have been?

As shocking as all this sounds the principles are widely used in everyday marketing and smart businesses are using it to better understand their customers and how they are likely to respond to particular campaigns or ideas. As a team of digital growth specialists, we can help you learn more about your audience through data-driven decision making. We can use Business Intelligence to tailor digital strategies that work for you.