Obama’s data machine and the future of political campaigns

A lot has been said about how data was used to predict the result of the 2012 US election.

A lot has also been made of the Obama campaign’s ability to use raw data (and online platforms) to its advantage.

This article, however, is the first time I’ve seen some real detail on exactly what that data machine looked like and what it achieved.

It’s a long piece – and it spends a lot of time looking at the personalities behind the programming – but for some really eye-opening stats skip down to the ‘what they actually built’ section on page 2.

Some choice facts and figures from there -

  • 30,000 Reddit users registered to vote through Obama’s site after he did an AMA there
  • The campaign used data from DVR boxes (akin to a Sky+ box) to target ads at viewers who had watched certain things, for example the TV debates
  • They designed a Twitter tool that could calculate a user’s influence, cross-reference it with other data (like if they were in a battleground state) and target DMs accordingly
  • Facebook fans were told if friends certain hadn’t voted and encouraged to get them to do so
  • The campaign created a ‘quick donate’ function similar to make repeat donations as easy as buying from Amazon or iTunes

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