Since the 2012 Obama campaign, Obama’s staff focused primarily on data analysis to help gather information from their targeted audience. The databases were able to help the campaign predict the outcome of the election. According to Kreiss’ and Welch’s article Controlling the Message in a Networked Age: Data, Strategic Communications, and the 2012 Presidential Election, data analysis connects with the increase usage of online advertising, which allows presidential campaigns to target specific voters’ political preferences and their whereabouts online.

Even though targeted political campaigning is beneficial for candidates to create ‘individualized information flows’ through data and modeling work in online advertising using social media, it also raises issues for some people who feel their privacy is violated. This breach of privacy can suggest whether it’s morally right or wrong to target online users. Some people could argue that this strategy of spying is manipulative and is breaking their basic liberties as a citizen. Targeting online users on social media can be seen as manipulative because campaigns can figure out undecided voters’ likelihood of being persuaded who they may have otherwise ignored in the past. Many people who disfavor the targeting approach could agree that it’s unethical for politicians to allow their campaigns to store people’s online whereabouts in their databases as a way to persuade them to vote for their party.

Knowing that digital campaigning proved itself a success after Obama’s victory over Romney in the 2012 election, targeted political campaigning online will remain an important strategy to sway voters to vote in future elections even though people question its ethical role. After reading a Forbes article about the future of digital campaigning for political campaigns, I wonder if the public will see any difference in the way political campaigns target their voters online, or if the structure of advertising on social media will remain the same for the 2016 presidential election? I have no doubt that targeting capabilities and data analytics capabilities will improve in the years to come, especially since political campaigns are moving towards observing buyers’ online buying habits to persuade them to vote; my question is essentially, how will digital campaigning advance in future elections? Furthermore, knowing that finding information through data and modeling will continue to grow in the future, will it affect the targeting content produced? It’s interesting to wonder if political campaigns will collect more data resulting in less content, which may negatively affect the way campaigns try to persuade voters with their messages.

Kantrowitz, Ale. “Ex-Romney Digital Director On The Future Of Digital Campaigning.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 29 Dec. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.

Kreiss and Welch, “Controlling the Message in a Networked Age.”

By Conway Wilcox


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