Does Big Data Belong in Politics? Does Big Data Belong in Politics?
Have you ever sat in front of your TV, impatiently waiting for the commercials to end so that you could get back to your... Does Big Data Belong in Politics?

Have you ever sat in front of your TV, impatiently waiting for the commercials to end so that you could get back to your favorite show, when suddenly an ad came on that felt like it was being addressed directly to you? While such a presumption may have been pure fantasy in the past, it may not be quite so innocent anymore. In fact, the rise of “Big Data” means that more and more advertisers are targeting their wares directly to you, in the most literal sense.

Big Brother – Or Big Data – Is Watching

If you have never heard of “Addressable TV”, now is the time for you to get up to speed. To put it simply, professional marketers are purchasing data collected by social media sites, company websites, and pretty much anywhere you enter your email address to purchase goods and services or to receive updates and notifications.

This information could include specific details, such as your car lease, cell phone contract, and all of the contributions you have made to political candidates.

Any entity that possesses this private information, especially a social media site like Facebook, Twitter, etc., can provide this info to marketers, who will then make use of it to craft custom tailored ads designed to appeal directly to your demographic.

This means that a political candidate will send their ads directly to those who are most likely to vote for them. For example, a household that is solidly Democratic (according to the private information that marketers have gleaned from their online information) will never see a TV ad for Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.

Media Data Mining

Dish Network and DirecTV have concluded major media package deals with data firms that represent the Republican and Democratic parties. It’s a not a far stretch to surmise that the purpose of such deals is to allow political campaigns endorsed by both parties to send ads to particular households based on voter data.

Data Enters Politics

This new marketing strategy is bound to have major repercussions in the arena of politics. Creators of addressable TV ads will soon have the ability to send specially crafted political ads to selected households, based on not only their registered party affiliation, but also on their economic preferences.

Such practices could accelerate the growing polarization of the political process by contributing directly to the “echo chamber” effect that is already sweeping social media networks. By targeting households only with ads promoting the candidate that the marketing team suspects they will support, this denies them the opportunity to hear from the opposing candidate. This is a rather worrying side effect that could bear very nasty consequences in the long run – and it’s being created and promoted, not for political gain per se, but purely for profit.

Additional Impacts

Addressable TV campaigns are already being crafted to impact every conceivable phase of your economic activity, from ads specially addressed to Ford or GM devotees, to restaurant ads that target specific households based on their perceived ability to afford their menu choices.

via Brandon E.

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