How microtargeting works

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2008-03-10 Print this article Print


Customer segmentation is, in a general, a way to group people or organizations with similar demographic profiles, attitudes, purchasing patterns, buying behaviors or other attributes to help organizations understand customers more thoroughly and ultimately market to them better. Companies like Strategic Telemetry and SPIN (Southern Political Information Network), a Southern states political consultancy, use the same concepts in the political arena.

Microtargeting uses data from a number of sources-individual states' voter files and census data-and combines it with available marketing data from companies like InfoUSA and Experian to get a basic voter picture of a given geographic area. Strategic Telemetry uses SPSS' Clementine data mining and predictive analytics workbench, combined with its own proprietary algorithms, to search for the best ways to reach the most likely undecided voters.

Based on an individual's ZIP code or background information, campaigns can get a better sense of who the voters are in a given area, and what the right messages would be on key issues such as education, health care, immigration and the economy.

Last week's primary election in Ohio is a good example. Both the Obama and Clinton campaigns went in emphasizing messages about the economy, as a large number of Ohioans have lost their jobs in recent years.

"We geocode the files and apply census block data," Strasma said. "That gives us thousands and thousands of data points-income, age, industry that people work in-and from that we can determine how many blue collar versus white collar employees, how long commute times are, what percentage are agricultural versus suburban, and their country of origin. It isn't about an individual-you don't look up if Joe Smith has a particular income-you find out a particular [census] block income level."

Once data input is determined, companies like Strategic Telemetry utilize algorithms to model various scenarios. Strasma said while the models can vary, the three most common search targets are: undecided voters "because you want your persuasion message going to the right people," the right supporters to turn out for campaigns because "if you want to turn out a voter you want to be reasonably sure they are going to vote for your candidate," and knowing which issues voters care about.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel