What is the Democratic version of Cambridge Analytica

Was psychological targeting used in the Trump election campaign?

"Not all women, older people or blacks want to buy the same products," says Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica. Therefore, segmentation according to demographic and geographical methods is quite good, but segmentation according to psychographic characteristics is much more effective. "Personality drives behavior," Nix explains in a speech given at the Concordia Summit in late September, showing how his company conducted psychological targeting for presidential candidate Ted Crux.

"If you know the personality of the people you want to address specifically, then you can formulate the message in such a way that it has as much effect as possible." And it shows how people got different messages, for example about planned gun laws, the fearful with the argument of the defense and conservatives with glorifying images about wild west romance.

The Swiss magazine "Das Magazin" spoke to Michal Kosinski, a scientist who has been dealing with psychometrics for years. A few years ago, Kosinski developed an app that conducts a personality test based on the well-known Big Five dimensions: openness (how open are you to new things?), Conscientiousness (how perfectionist are you?), Extraversion (how sociable are you? ), Tolerance (how considerate and cooperative are you?) And neuroticism (are you easily vulnerable?).

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After the US presidential election, market researchers also have to put up with critical questions: How did this happen? Who correctly predicted the election? But above all: How could so many pollsters be so wrong?

Kosinski put the app with the psycho test on Facebook and quickly had psychological profiles of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users. Linked to their behavior on Facebook - what is posted, shared and liked - a huge database was created. "In 2012, Kosinski provided evidence that an average of 68 Facebook likes of a user could be used to predict what skin color he has (95 percent accuracy), whether he is homosexual (88 percent probability), whether he is a Democrat or a Republican (85 percent) ", so Das Magazin.

Cambridge Analytica has taken over the method - whether stolen or legally acquired, put it aside - and is now using it for psychological targeting. "You can increase the click rate of Facebook ads by over 60 percent. The so-called conversion rate can be increased by an incredible 1400 percent," writes "Das Magazin".

But it is not the economic opportunities that outrage the social networkers, but rather that there was apparently massive interference in the election campaign in the USA. So after social bots and fake news, psychological targeting?

Cambridge Analytica has combined the treasure trove of data with open, freely accessible data in the USA: land register entries, bonus card programs, electoral rolls, club memberships, magazine subscriptions, medical data. Nix shows the logos of globally active data traders such as Acxiom, Experian and Nielsen in its presentation. It is perfectly legal to trade this personal information in the United States. Nix claims that he has a profile of all adult Americans.

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Donald Trump becomes US President - that surprised US election researchers. Can we gain insights from this for the 2017 federal election? Forsa boss Manfred Güllner knows the answers.

Thanks to Cambridge Analytica, the notoriety and popularity of the candidate Ted Crux has increased significantly. And after he dropped out of the election campaign, the company made its services available to Donald Trump and the outcome of the Brexit vote had already been decided with the help of the company, it is said.

Nix explains to "Das Magazin" how he does it: "On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump's team sent 175,000 different variations of his arguments, mainly via Facebook. The messages mostly differ only in microscopic details to the recipient To correspond psychologically optimally: different titles, colors, subtitles, with photo or with video. The granularity of the adaptation goes down to the smallest groups. "

So much for the excitement from social media. Many critical voices, including Dennis Horn, who blogs for WDR, consider the tweets and retweets to be hysteria and old hat. Niclas Scharioth from the Mafo startup Pollion points out that the topic was already raised in Obama's election campaign. "Only then did nobody talk about clumsy influencing, but about the clever use of modern methods by the first candidate with experience in social media," remembers Scharioth.

For Germany, he currently sees no possibilities or dangers of such influence. The data protection laws do not give that in this country. No matter if exaggerated, hype or well-known reality. Psychological targeting will continue to occupy the marketing and market research community in the future. Some researchers are already working with the big five of personalities, including Scharioth, who queries the characteristics with his app "biopinio" and thus creates personas of organic buyers. To read in planning & analysis issue 6/16. hed

This article first appeared on planung & analyze