There was a lot to learn about our country and individualized American behavior post-presidential election. As some Americans attempt to grapple with voters’ repudiation of the establishment, advertisers and brand strategists are investigating the future of political marketing, regarding the assumptions the industry makes about consumer behavior and how data is used to target them.
The polarized quadrennial election uncovered a swell of support from middle-class voters made up of, “rural, economically frustrated, elite-distrusting, anti-globalization voters.“ Harris Diamond, CEO of advertising conglomerate McCann, noted that modern marketing initiatives are positioned to align with the likes of “coastal elite imagery,” concluding that the future of advertising needs to, “reflect less of New York and Los Angeles culture and more of Des Moines and Scranton.”
Polling estimations that relied on ‘big data’ neglected to calculate human bias, inevitably questioning the validity of impersonal research and broad audience segmentation as it pertains to advertising research (both political marketing and consumer goods/service marketing). Modern consumers crave personalization and local distinctiveness, rather than higher-level advertising that focuses on global aspirations, such as saving the world from climate change or defeating economic inequality – and Trump’s campaign understood this. His marketing initiatives channeled the ‘modern American’ who aspires to raise their children in a happy home environment, have a job to go to each morning, attend the occasional little league game and indulge in an annual family vacation.
America is generally a single-issue voting country, meaning that eligible voters neglect certain behaviors and prioritize a single-most important issue. The media exposed and fed off of respective Trump and Clinton scandals, including Clinton’s controversial emails and Trump’s racist, sexist and xenophobic commentary. Despite the candidates’ reflexive secretiveness and lecherous remarks, Americans were quick to adopt tribal behaviors to determine which candidate they most aligned with, contingent upon an overarching stance on issues such as gun control, globalization or abortion.
Trump was able to garner support for single-issues in certain states, and his platform “Make America Great Again” reinforced voters’ opinions by tapping into the unadulterated everyday life of the average American. Trump’s provocative diction leveled with the ordinary Joe and Jane who feared insulting political correctness and going beyond the status quo. So, who was behind Trump’s genius personalized political campaign?
Harvard and New York University schooled, Trump’s son-in law Jared Kushner, is now being commended for his valiant efforts in getting Trump elected into office. In an exclusive interview with Forbes, Kushner is described as running Trump’s campaign as he would a Silicon Valley startup. President Obama is notorious for leveraging Facebook to reach voters in the 2008 election, and Hillary Clinton borrowed strategies from Obama’s approach in amalgamation with traditional media for the 2016 election. However, under Kushner’s advisement, the Trump campaign explored, “message tailoring, sentiment manipulation and machine learning.” Although traditional rallies and media exposés were sprinkled into the traditional political campaign mix, Kushner understood that the unfiltered online world undermined traditional media.
Upon delving into social media (Facebook and Twitter specifically fueled the campaign), Kushner sought the expertise of Silicon Valley pundits who then referred him to technology companies.
Surveying highly segmented audience behaviors and sentiments, Trump’s campaign was able to gather and target constituent data in real time, using data partners to scale digital marketing initiatives through dense geolocation targeting and “up-to-the-minute voter data.” Forbes cited that Trump’s campaign spent half of Clinton’s campaign, but pushed out more than 100,000 tailored ads to specific voters each day.
The future of political marketing is affirmatively bound to the emerging trend of big data, advanced audience segmentation, real-time micro-targeting, customer analytics and a candidate’s ability to efficiently deploy personalization.