Innovation from Politics? An unlikely place or not?


This morning, I was listening to the Take Away with John Hockenberry, and I heard words like micro-targeting, dig data and highly personalized. Teddy Goff, Obama’s 2012 Campaign digital director says, “…Pretty much everybody saw more or less the same version of, and that’s not going to be how it goes in 2016.”

Welcome to the world of advanced, dynamic personalization…perhaps the one area where U.S. politics leads in innovation

Based on data collected down to the household level, campaigns will be able to target their messaging based on the interests of the members of the household. But simply reaching out to people with points of view that they already agree with isn’t enough. The social media messaging is designed to, according to Goff, “stroke passion among your followers.” In other words, agreement without action is not success.

The rationale for this is of course to get people to vote for the right candidate. But – one layer deeper – it’s all about delivering content that is so relevant that it drives action. And relevancy is the key.

Given a backdrop where trust in politicians is at an all time low and skepticism about government is through the roof, it takes a lot more than a catchy slogan to make somebody get up off the couch, or away from the screen, and actively participate.

Whenever we’ve been hearing about government and big data in the same breadth, everyone instantly starts talking about the NSA. But what they are doing is benign, by comparison. After all, no matter what you think about the NSA, they’re just listening – whereas the political campaigns are applying the same sort of data to driving behavior, or in other words, marketing.

Whatever we want to call it, we’re seeing the national political campaigns leading the way in micro targeting and personalization. Every time we get an email or a Tweet or turn on our Direct TV, we will be embarking on a customer experience that listens to what we say, what we do and then combines it with relevant messaging to get us to take an appropriate action.

After all, if it can elect a president, then the same approach should help sell soap, or software, or you name it. So, when making your donation to a candidate, think of it as more than just an investment in their campaign. You’re investing in a personalization incubator.

A version of this article originally was published on the Tahzoo corporate blog at the following address:

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