Still Wondering How Trump Won? Try Psychographic Targeting
You wake up, yawn, stretch. Pick up the phone. Check Facebook. “Like.” “Like.” “Like,” again.
After 10 “likes,” Michal Kosinski knows you better than your work colleagues. After 70, he knows you better than your partner does, including -- whether these things were explicitly referenced in your clicks or not -- your skin color, your sexual orientation, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, whether you smoke or do drugs… The list goes on.
Like some creepy alt-Santa, he knows how open you are. Whether you’re a perfectionist. Whether you’re considerate. Whether you’re neurotic.
Kosinski isn’t a CIA agent or a spy. He isn’t even a marketer. He’s a researcher at Stanford, and he’s worked out how to turn your clicks into psychographic profiles.
As detailed in a long and superb article on Motherboard, Kosinski’s technique is similar to the technique used by the company Cambridge Analytica to help the Brexit and Trump campaigns win.
Your clicks helped Cambridge Analytica develop a psychographic profile of every adult in America, and Facebook’s targeting capabilities helped them reach every adult in America with exactly the ad that would most affect them.
During a presentation at the Concordia Summit last September, Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, showed “how psychographically categorized voters can be differently addressed, based on the example of gun rights, the 2nd Amendment: ‘For a highly neurotic and conscientious audience the threat of a burglary—and the insurance policy of a gun.’ An image on the left shows the hand of an intruder smashing a window. The right side shows a man and a child standing in a field at sunset, both holding guns, clearly shooting ducks: ‘Conversely, for a closed and agreeable audience. People who care about tradition, and habits, and family.’"
Those seem like nice examples. Also, if you’re black, you might see an ad in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, or if you live in Little Haiti you might see one about “the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti.”