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SXSW Interactive 2013

Politics Ate My Cookie: Voter Microtargeting 2012

The 2012 elections saw a massive shift in how political campaigns reach voters online: for the first time, cookie-based voter-file targeting allowed candidates and outside organizations to reach individual voters with messages designed to resonate with them on a large scale. Campaigns from Congress to the Presidential race combined voter information with databases of consumer behavior and characteristics to build target universes that allowed them to hit specific groups of voters with advertising designed to persuade them or recruit them. This tactic worked alongside other microtargeting techniques which allowed campaigns to leverage the social connections of their supporters, usually supplemented with more-traditional "channel-based" targeting. This panel will examine the prevalence and effectiveness of political microtargeting, with a particular eye toward the future implications of the process for political and commercial advertisers.

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  1. Were cookie-based voter-file targeting and other microtargeting efforts effective in reaching and persuading voters in 2012?
  2. How common was voter microtargeting in 2012?
  3. What are the privacy implications of voter microtargeting, particularly cookie-based voter-file targeting?
  4. What lessons can commercial and nonprofit marketers and advertisers learn from the political use of microtargeting?
  5. What is the future of online voter microtargeting? What technologies and tactics are likely to dominate the field, and can we expect a voter backlash?



Colin Delany, Founder/Editor, Epolitics.com

Meta Information:

  • Tags: politics, advertising
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Government and Civic Engagement
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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