Big data was an important theme at this year's Campaign Tech Conference in Washington DC. The conference brings together the foremost American experts on digital campaign technology. United Minds' Jonas Hellman and Prime’s Seher Yilmaz attended the conference along with clients, to learn about the latest developments.
Obama's campaign manager Jim Melissa recently stated in an interview that this year's campaign will make the Obama campaign 2008 look 'prehistoric'. One of the key differences from 2008 that has already emerged is the strong focus on big data.Definitions vary, but ‘big data’ in a general sense refers to massive quantities of data from varied online and offline sources.
- Data is the new gold in political campaigns, said Seth Bannon, co-founder and CEO of Amicus, who spoke on Campaign Tech Conference.
Social media enables political parties to collect and analyze volumes of data that users leave behind. This data can be extremely helpful in building a better understanding of both supporters and opponents. This has three immediate benefits:
- It can help to inform micro targeted persuasion campaigns, which specifically speak to varying types of potential voters. For example, a campaign can turn specifically to university educated women of a certain age group and with certain interests, with a message that is tailored to their wishes. (If they happen to drive a lot the message can be about gasoline tax, the traffic situation in a certain neighborhood etc.)
- The information can also assist in recruiting volunteers to knock on doors, make phone calls, raise money and communicate to their personal networks. To succeed activate supporters it is good to know as much as possible about what motivates them.
- Big data also allows campaigns to collect and analyze information that gives them a fulsome snapshot of how the campaign is progressing. This makes it possible to monitor the situation and take prompt action if something needs to be changed.
The Obama campaign is expected to have the most innovative internal data operations ever for a political campaign. But the Republicans are gearing up to match the Democrats.
- Mitt Romney’s people understand the importance of data. The Romney campaign has recruited a very impressive digital team, said Josh Koster, a talented digital strategist who prior to the elections in 2012 is working for several Democratic candidates.
//Jonas Hellman and Seher Yilmaz, Prime & United Minds