How an Internet Marketer Influenced the Presidential Election
Meet Matt Oczkowski. He's an internet marketer turned data analyst who's currently the Head of Product at Cambridge Analytica.
If you were to ask Oczkowski what he specializes in he would say "I aim to develop products that focus on growth and mobilization – this means I spend most of my time trying to figure out what behavioral and emotional triggers move individuals to action and how to harness that energy online", per his LinkedIn background.
He's worked as a Digital Strategist and Digital Director on various political campaigns. While in school in 2008, he interned as an eCampaign intern for the Republican National Committee. His role included updating links and information on GOP.com and posting news and links to several different social networking tools.
Oczkowski's toolbox of skill has expanded greatly since early internships. He's certified in:
- MySQL 5
- Computing for Data Analysis
- Inbound Marketing
He's been endorsed for online marketing, digital strategy, social media, online advertising, political campaigns and public relations.
The impact that these skills can have in the political arena should not be underestimated. Anyone curious about the future of political campaigns should familiarize themselves with the roles of data analysis, internet marketing and digital strategy in politics.
The Trump Campaign Surprised Everyone - Especially Poll Experts
With only hours to go before the election results, a Reuters poll predicted a Clinton win with 90% certainty.The New York Times had Clinton at an 84% chance to win.
It was all but set in stone.
Rewind a few months back, Cambridge Analytica was hired to work for the Trump campaign. The company was focused on using behavioral science and sophisticated polling models that pulled real time data from a variety of sources to form actionable strategies.
According to an Oczkowsky interview with Bloomberg,
If he was going to win this election, it was going to be because of a Brexit-style mentality and a different demographic trend than other people were seeing.
Their data showed them that key ideologies of certain demographics could lay a path to a possible electorate victory. On the night of the election as votes were still being tallied Oczkowski tweeted out:
Lower African American turnout, coupled with not enough Hispanic turnout to make up the difference, and an increase in rural voters = win
— Matt Oczkowski (@MattOczkowski) November 9, 2016
How Data was Used to Shape the Advertising of the Trump Campaign
Cambridge Analytica was pulling data from a variety of sources. According to Mashable these included social media, credit card histories, voting records, consumer data, purchase history, supermarket loyalty schemes, phone calls, field operatives, Facebook surveys and TV watching habits.
In the Mashable article Oczkowski attributes their advantage over other polling companies to
how quickly we were able to react by updating models to take into account where the demographic is shifting.
Having real time data is that is more accurate than competitors can be incredibly useful, especially when combined with targeted advertising.
Targeted advertising is heavily used by internet marketers. Everything from the duration of time you spend on a specific web page, the content of those pages and your clicks on that web page is tracked (unless you opt out or disable cookies on your browser). This information is used to tailor advertisements to your specific interests.
relied largely on Facebook to match identities and target ads.
This strategy was hyper focused on states and specific issues identified by the data found by Cambridge Analytica. They may have spent less, but they achieved better results.
The Role of Internet Marketing, Data and SEO in Past Political Campaigns
These tactics aren't specific to the Trump campaign or the 2016 election cycle. They've been the bread and butter of political campaigns for years now.
NPR did an article on how Presidential Campaigns Harness the Powers of Search Engine Optimization. The piece focuses on the impact of SEO in Rick Santorum's 2012 presidential campaign, which was nearly derailed by an angered sex columnist, Dan Savage.
Savage created a vulgar website using Santorum's name, and through the power of SEO it outranked Santorum's own Campaign website.
In this instance, Santorum's campaign was pushed to employ Search Engine Optimization on the defensive. However, if a campaign can anticipate actionable keywords that voters are likely to search and rank for those terms it can heavily influence the voting population.