Open Prep: Campaigns and Big Data

On the Brian Lehrer Show Tuesday, Micah Sifry of Tech President talked about how the Obama and Romney campaigns are using data to target and tailor their messaging to raise cash and rustle up votes. Below is some of the background reading we did to get ready for the conversation.

+ Obama 2012 Strategy: Obama's Data Advantage (Politico)

The hope for the Obama team, says West, “is that his online reach will outweigh any Superpac funding advantage Romney might have for television advertising, by reaching deep into communities with targeted online advertising, grass-roots organizing and fundraising.”

+ Video Describing How Campaigns Can Use Online Tracking

+ How The Data Get Used: Campaign Drowns Supporters with Emails (Washington Post)

Many of the Obama e-mails are close variations of each other, illustrating the sophisticated techniques used by campaigns to target different audiences. One recent message from Beyoncé was aimed at African American women, while other pitches target Latinos, military families, pet owners and a host of other niches.

+ Will Voters Revolt? Micah Sifry on Tech President 

With the web and now the rise of mobile, campaigns' pursuit and use of information about individuals has never been more sophisticated. Sure, they ask people to voluntarily share some data when they register on a candidate's website or sign up for a Facebook app. But they also quietly put cookies on their browsers, buy information about their behavior from third party tracking services, pick up the geographical info shared on their mobile devices, and merge that with consumer data in order to tailor messages according to individual proclivities.

+ Americans Reject Tailored Advertising: Annenberg Study (PDF)

Targeting refers to the analysis of data about a population to determine who should receive a persuasive message, how, when and for what reasons. Tailored advertising refers to shaping a persuasive message for a particular individual based on conclusions the targeting process generated about that person’s interests and values.

+ The Obama App and Privacy: Is Your Neighbor A Democrat? (Pro Publica)

With the Obama app, getting a glimpse of your neighbor's political affiliation can take seconds. While The New York Times dubbed the app "the science-fiction dream of political operatives," some of the voters who appear in the app are less enthusiastic about it.