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  • Chidi Ameke

How to achieve business impact through data analytics

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

Lines of computer code

If you subscribe to Netflix, watch “The Great Hack”. It carefully shows how a data company named Cambridge Analytica used data scraped from social media (e.g Facebook) to profile every single person in the USA. Yes! Every single person in the USA.

It then analysed their personal data to determine their personality based on their psychological profile analysis. This in turn allowed them to predict people’s behaviour.

Silhouette profile view of a man

Through this clever combination of data analytics and psychological profiling, they have been able to target a particular demographic called the ‘persuadable’ - people who are on the fence politically. They are neither left nor right in their political views. Such people were targeted with specific non-branded comms (e.g. “Defeat Crooked Hillary”, #crookedhillary, “crooked Hillary 10 legendary lies” etc), and all its permutations. They released them into the bloodstream of the internet to grow. This technique plays on people’s fears. For example - terrorism, immigration and the like - in order to get them to vote a certain way.

Cambridge Analytica claimed success for Trump getting into the White House (2016 U.S. presidential election), and for the Leave.EU (Brexit) campaign outcome. They have also played a pivotal role in helping their ‘clients’ (political parties) win elections in many countries around the world. 

The process Cambridge Analytica follows include - Raw Data gathering (through social media and other publicly available data platforms) > Research > Analytics > Modelling (using sentiments such as user likes etc) > Audience Segmentation > Data Informed Content Creation > Activation > Performance Analysis > Continuous Optimisation.

The targeting tool and methodology Cambridge Analytica used is considered a weapon - government 'weapons-grade communication tactics'. Such techniques are usually reserved for war zones to influence the minds and change the behaviour of enemy combatants and the civilian population.

If you’re interested to learn more about data ethics in the digital age, check out this piece by Accenture, click here.

As marketers in the digital age, we have a role to play to participate and contribute to the conversation around data ethics. After all, data continues to inform and drive creative strategy which comes with ethical responsibilities.

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