The Politics of Value Exchange

Lead Consultant

Eve Fantom

Lead Consultant

Posted: 08 June 2017

In March, Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, opened a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes. Given the value of Big Data, and the insight it can provide, it’s hardly surprising that political parties would seek to harness this by accurately profiling the electorate and using it to target individuals via digital channels.

We saw in the election campaign a noticeable rise in the use of targeting, particularly by the Tory party, across digital channels. This is nothing new, of course. In 2009 the Obama campaign made use of a fast-growing medium, social media, to accurately ‘microtarget’ individual swing voters, a tactic many see as a key factor in Obama’s eventual victory. Fast forward to today, and the US 2016 presidential race saw the Trump campaign spend $8.4m on digital in July alone.

And why wouldn’t political parties wish to use these techniques to understand voters by region? In the battle for number 10, surely it is a sensible use of available tools to understand the demographics of voters and, crucially, their political disposition.

Social media represents a vast pool of sentiment data, a veritable gold mine for a would-be Prime Minister, if it’s used effectively.

For example, this bar chart view of social mention share per day shows clearly the dominance of Conservatives in sheer volume of mentions, but we see an increase in Labour share of mentions as time goes on.

Viewed in isolation, pure volume of mentions can be incredibly misleading. Are these negative or positive comments? Funnily enough, the chart below shows a largely negative trend for both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn; interesting compared to 2015 attitudes towards David Cameron and Ed Miliband – both of whom garnered much more positive sentiment throughout the campaign period.

Source of both graphs:

So sentiment is key, and as politicians seek to gain from the increase in data available, so the public will become more aware of how their data is being used. Having my personal details and my transaction history is one thing, but my opinions and attitudes? That’s different.

Be it political party or global retailer, with public awareness of data use growing, the value exchange between the public and provider needs to be more overt. When using personal data and advanced analytics, we need to consider the enhanced end user experience, the ‘what’s in it for me?’ element, to ensure that consumers see a benefit in more tailored experiences and offers in exchange for their data.

Eve Fantom
Lead Consultant

If you would like to talk to us about how we could help you make your marketing more relevant, responsive and personalised, or if you would like help making sense of social data, please get in touch.