How internet has changed data extraction to become an exact science

Talking about elections and data extractions – well, the two have a long-standing relationship.

If you didn’t already know. Duh!

Elections have ALWAYS been about data analysis. Data analysis is done by Psephologists at a bucket level. Before the big internet boom, the analysts collated precinct voting data, public opinion polls, campaign finance information and similar statistical data. People’s opinion and point of views were noted to generate a propaganda that resonated with the voters.

However, with internet’s inception- online, personalization and big data has changed the rule of the game. Every time you punch in your data, be it at a store, offline or at a website, you get tagged. It’s within minutes that your data gets extracted from ‘this’ to ‘that’ (Yes, hold that thought, we will come back to it).  This data gets compiled together as it goes through an intensive data analysis system to provide insights about a person. Getting excited?

Now sit back, because this goes deep down! Have you ever noticed, the moment you get done searching about a brand or a product, and move on to another website or page, you start seeing similar advisements in the periphery of your screen? This is what we are talking about. If you thought it was a coincidence all this while, well, it wasn’t. It was a schematic data extraction. At some level, this has been done and used over the years by marketeers in brands and causes. And there you were sitting and thinking ‘Oh wow, this is a sign of great things to come’! When in reality, it’s just DATA. Sorry to burst your bubble, but let’s move on.

This is the same good old analysis that drove the Arab Springs. The data analysts analysed behavioural patterns of a certain demographic area (in this case, the Arabs) to discover trigger points. These trigger points were then used to cause uprisings. You see, how it escalated from ‘this’ to ‘that’?

When it comes to all this data and analysis, the Internet just made it easier. By providing automation, it translated the results into more actionables.  If we could, at all, categorize- there are seven ways in which data extraction and management for election campaigns take place:

#1 The traditional way: This category belongs to the traditional Psephologists. The data, in this case, is not at an individual level, but rather at a statistical level where the data of all kinds is put together.

#2 The infamous Cambridge Analytica way: The data is extracted from Facebook to procure insights around your likes, your views, your preferences, and so on.

#3 The legal way: Getting data from Facebook legally also remains one of the options for Psephologists. You need to provide Facebook information around how you want to target and who you want to target. Custom audiences and emails are combined together for better targeting.

#4 Voter Database: Data is captured from the municipality voter database and then targeting is built from there.

#5 Remarketing: This option uses multiple sources to extract and mine data, remarketing being the key.

#6 Data extraction agencies:  These agencies combine online, offline data with other mechanisms to come up with targeting. Data from various websites when combined at a great scale can provide a similar effect.

#7 The offline market: Embellishing this data with other offline sources of data (from the banks, stores etc).

Now, let us give you examples of how YOUR data gets transferred from ‘this’ to ‘that’:

You log into amazon to look for a particular product

You use a certain pickup/drop point when taking an Uber

You google Times of India to read an article on a specific topic

All your aforementioned content consumption- your purchasing behaviour, your engagement pattern, even your physical location while doing all of the above- is noted and stored to understand you and your preferences. This is then used as a baseline to create propaganda and is pushed your way which you then, very subconsciously, consume.

This forms a basis of how you perceive the candidate and with this consciously created framework- you VOTE.

Mind blown? We thought so 😊

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