The Data-Driven President

New Business & Marketing Manager

Matt Tilling

New Business & Marketing Manager

Posted: 13 March 2017

Since Trump’s surprise election in November last year, a number of revelations have come to light as to his camp’s use of data. Specifically, their use of social data to accurately predict the psychographic profile of targeted demographic groups.

Even, perhaps, individuals.

First, it is worth noting that Trump’s digital presence far outweighed Clinton's during the campaign, and there have been numerous articles written about the Trump campaign’s focus on digital over more traditional channels. It is notable that Trump spent far more in the digital space than Clinton, who, whilst riding on the back of Obama’s social media spotlight, spent big in traditional broadcast channels. Combine this with Trump’s huge amount of earned media (estimated at $5m) and it amounts to an ominous amount of digital exposure.


“Such data-driven targeting would normally only be discussed in a CRM strategy meeting.”

It’s one thing to earn it, but using this exposure intelligently requires a far more refined strategy.

In June 2016 Trump’s ratings were at their lowest since his decision to run for the presidency at 38.3%. In response, the Trump campaign set up ‘Project Alamo’: a data-driven digital targeting strategy that would normally only be discussed in a CRM strategy meeting, not the corridors of Trump Tower. In the US, the use of personal data is far less prohibited than it is in Europe, and by utilising vast amounts of data from social media platforms, Trump’s analytics team could accurately predict the psychological disposition of millions of individuals. A person who ‘likes’ philosophy, for example, was far more likely to be an introvert, where as someone who ‘likes’ Lady Gaga was far more likely to be an extrovert.

In fact, work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in 2013, claims that 68 Facebook ‘likes’ are enough to reveal highly personal attributes of a given individual, with a huge amount of accuracy. They could even reveal someone’s political predisposition.

The power of the ‘like’ was becoming clear.


Facebook has opened the door for detailed sentiment analysis.


Sentiment analysis like this is nothing new, but when armed with the kind of volumes that social media provides, it can become extremely accurate. By accurately identifying swathes of wavering voters across key battleground states, the Trump campaign could then use this data across multiple channels, from digital ad targeting on Facebook to door-knockers. In fact, campaigners going from door-to-door were even equipped with an app, showing them exactly where receptive voters were on certain streets, and provided with tailored messaging for each profile.

In essence, the Trump campaign utilised traditional direct marketing segmentation and, with the help of social engagement data, personalised it’s messaging at an individual level.

If ever there was a case for the use of cross-channel personalisation in marketing communications, the 2016 presidential race is it.

Matt Tilling
New Business & Marketing Manager
@tposmatt