Presidential Campaigns Rip Pages Out of Zuckerberg's Playbook
Conservative Christian males and liberal atheist females are being targeted -- on Facebook, at least.
According The New York Times, these kinds of digital details are increasingly valuable to office-seekers than ever before.
As we all know, Facebook thrives off of tracking our web patterns, analyzing our likes and dislikes and then selling these details to advertisers.
A Facebook profile, in this sense, is our consumer profile and, in the recent election cycle, it has evolved into yet another form: our voter profile.
More and more, presidential hopefuls, including Barack Obama, are using a marketing staple of the information and Facebook age known as micro-targeting.
Firms such as Targeted Victory or Target Point basically tag any user who has the slightest degree of potential to vote for a specific candidate with a number, creating a database of aggregated information of anonymous supporters. Once they have this data, they hand it off to campaigns or super PACs, which can then sling specific ads for specific groups.
Here's an example of just how particular it could get, according to the Times: if you were a "committed party member" before a primary, you got the old-fashioned patriotic ad of Romney, where he's trying to rip America out of the Obama administration's claws.
If your digital self was still on the fence about him, or you hadn't made it clear yet who the hell you were voting for, you had the opportunity to see the family man Romney ad.
The purpose of the second ad is for you to approve Romney over the other rivaling candidates and then, if you're lucky, you'll turn into a "committed party member," who is allowed to watch the anti-Obama ads for big boys.
By doing so, campaign machines can efficiently spend money ($5 to $9 per thousand ad displays on average) by narrowing down their scope instead of firing ads into a general public that may or may not care.
The Obama campaign first molded the social network into a dominant political force by mastering this technique back in 2008. Four years later, as Facebook nears the billion member mark just months before the election, the White House is planning on steamrolling users' profiles in an unprecedented manner to harness the youth vote once again.
Follow John Surico @JSuricz
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.