We Know You, Better Than You Know You; Metadata, Analytics & Hacking The Consumer Brain

From Cookies to Clusters

At one point in time advertisers had to rely on metadata from search engines and browsers to target consumers. This metadata was often referred to as cookies. Cookies are small files which are stored on a user’s computer. They are designed to hold a modest amount of data specific to a particular client and website, and can be accessed either by the web server or the client computer. According to most, cookie tracking became less relevant as mobile became a major factor years ago.

In 2014 Facebook surpassed 1 Billion users worldwide. The company has billions of metric tons of highly personal metadata amassed from its users, such as shoe size, hair color, where your grandmother is buried, and where you went to school.

The social network relies on its SSO (Single Sign-On) to follow the movement of users. SSO allows you to use your Facebook credentials on third-party websites and apps. When you do this, Facebook is watching, following, and cataloging your destination points. This data drives, to a degree, what ads turn up on your Facebook news feed. Maybe you’ve noticed.

WhatsApp and Instagram, owned by Facebook, along with the company’s internally developed apps like Messenger and Paper, increase the data flow even though they don’t currently feature ads.

The websites you visit tell Google plenty, and the information comes in handy no matter what device you’re using.

Google also relies heavily on its SSO. Logging into any of your Google accounts ties you to the entire Google network, which is massive. Google also has its Android mobile operating system, which assigns each user a Google Ad ID. Many of Google’s ad products — AdSense, AdMob, and DoubleClick — pull in your device’s ad identifier. Together with the information it already has from its many web properties, including YouTube, Gmail, Voice, and Search, the company can compile a dossier, as it were, of your digital history. The websites you visit tell Google plenty, and the information comes in handy no matter what device you’re using.

Psychological Data & Analytics Within The Political Arena

Ted Cruz was one of the many politicians within the 2016 race to use psychological data and analytics to his advantage. The team reportedly spent over $700k hiring a data and analytics firm. Now, Donald Trump has looked to do the same by paying over $100k per month for a data and analytics firm to assist with his run against Hillary Clinton.

Adam Pasick and Tim Fernholz wrote a segment in Qaurtz back in October of 2015 detailing how the Clinton campaign is also putting their money towards analytics and digital outreach. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The Groundwork, according to Democratic campaign operatives and technologists, is part of efforts by Schmidt — the executive chairman of Google parent-company Alphabet — to ensure that Clinton has the engineering talent needed to win the election. And it is one of a series of quiet investments by Schmidt that recognize how modern political campaigns are run, with data analytics and digital outreach as vital ingredients that allow candidates to find, court, and turn out critical voter blocs.

The Groundwork is one of the Clinton campaign’s biggest vendors, billing it for more than $177,000 in the second quarter of 2015, according to federal filings.

Here is an excerpt from MIT Technology Review by David Talbot explaining micro-targeting’s role and how it helps candidates win over citizens one by one:

When a state representative named Thom Tillis ran for U.S. Senate in North Carolina in 2014, his campaign followed the now-standard practice of sending voters online and direct-mail advertisements referring to particular issues. Which issues mattered to which people, from ISIS to the Affordable Care Act, could be gleaned from the voters’ memberships and donations or inferred from demographic information and databases of everything from their purchases to their Web history.

But some of Tillis’s advertisements tried something new. One, which showed Tillis smiling broadly with a soft-focus background of green foliage, promised he’d “restore common sense in Washington.” Another, featuring a man wearing a hard hat while poring over blueprints with his team, asserted that Tillis had “the experience to get the economy working.” A third showed the camouflage-smeared face of a soldier and contained this promise from Tillis: “Your safety is his top priority.”

Source: How Political Campaigns Know You’re Neurotic

Understanding How Micro-targeting Works

The goal of market segmentation (micro-targeting) is to separate the general market into categories, which can then be targeted and marketed the most effectively by using the channels mentioned above (Facebook, Google & Apple). There are four general types of market segmentation and three psychographic variables used to achieve the highest rate of success:

1. Geographic segmentation separates a market into different geographical boundaries which can impact the marketing mix of product, price, promotion and channel to market. For instance, you may not sell many down comforters in Arizona, but the market in Michigan is pretty good. Ever been to Hawaii? The price of goods is substantially higher than the continental United States. And the way you promote and sell a product in southern California will be quite different from Vermont.

2. Demographic segmentation separates a market by demographic indicators including gender, age, household type, education level and income. Simply put, the type of products we buy, how much we spend, and how we buy them are largely determined by demographic factors.

3. Psychographic segmentation separates a market by lifestyle as well as values and beliefs. There are large target markets which fit psychographic segmentation, such as outdoor recreation and fitness.

4. Behavioral segmentation separates a market by shopping and buying behaviors. Are you an online shopper or do you prefer to handle products in the store? How often do you shop? Do you research a purchase carefully before making a decision, or do you tend to buy on impulse? All of these factors determine how consumers are segmented and marketed to.

Along with the 4 behavioral segmentations mentioned above are the three psychographic variables Personality, Life style and social class.

Personality — Introvert, extravert, highly determined, authoritarian, sociable, motivated, powerful, etc… Does the personality of a consumer determine whether or not they purchase your product?

Life style — Active achiever, pleasure seeker, values, beliefs, etc… Does the life style of a consumer determine whether or not they purchase your product?

Social class is a division of a society based on social and economic status. The six categories below break down an estimation of what social class most folks fit into and their spending habits.

This group represents the “social” elite. Their wealth is generally passed down through the generations and their family background is, in many cases, well known. In general, they buy jewelry, homes, vacations, status symbols, “superior” education for their children, and the like.

This class usually begins life in the middle class and earns their wealth in professions or businesses. The products which they normally purchase are expensive homes, automobiles, education for their children, jewelry, swimming pools, and other merchandise that represents status.

This class is not considered highly wealthy nor possess an overwhelmely high family status. They do, however, live extremely “comfortable” and enjoy fine homes, clothes, furniture, wines, appliances, etc. This class focuses much of their attention on careers as corporate managers, successful business owners, and other professional positions.

Bottom-Middles are usually “white collar”( office workers and small business owners) “gray collar” (mailmen, etc.), and certain “blue collar” workers (electricians, plumbers, foremen).

This class in said to conform to norms and standards set by society and rarely deviates from what is expected. Their conventional homes are of great importance to them and they feel the need to keep them neat and tidy. They buy standard household goods, furniture and clothing that is traditional and tidy.

This class represents all other “blue collar” workers including skilled and semi-skilled factory workers. They generally seek respect, protect their possessions, and search for “security”. The top-lower male usually drinks beer, likes watching sports, and enjoys the outdoors. The top-lower female usually holds part or full time positions to provide extra income for the family.

This class usually consists of poorly educated, unskilled workers. They are frequently unemployed and require some sort of public assistance. Their purchases are generally more spontaneous or on credit. Their housing is, for the most part, below standard.

Psychological Data & Analytics Within The Business Arena

By centralizing and synthesizing fragmented customer data across various point-of-sale systems, e-commerce platforms, mobile applications and social accounts with advanced Consumer Management technology company’s can now target existing and new customer more effectively.

Integrating each of these customer data silos into a single, synthesized data set, delivers an unprecedented, holistic view of a company’s customers based on their past purchases, interactions and preferences. This, in turn, provides powerful intelligence to drive advanced segmentation, sophisticated personas and strategic, targeted campaigns to engage and motivate consumers. It also allows brands to identify and understand their Most Valuable Customers (MVCs) across a spectrum of dimensions beyond mere purchase value, allowing them to foster their brand affinity and cultivate their evangelism.

Going Beyond Demographics

Although often lumped together, psychographic data is fundamentally different from demographics. Instead of treating people as a part of a larger group, psychographic analysis views each one as an individual. This kind of data can reveal very deep and unique differences among consumers based on the stores they shop, the products they purchase, and the brands to which they’re loyal. Because of this level of individual detail and the deep insights that it yields, psychographic analysis is far more granular than group-level demographic analysis. And the insights it yields are far more valuable. Segmentation based on psychographics is a significantly more informative and powerful component within consumer insights.

The insights you gain from a robust analysis of psychographic data can strengthen and sharpen your decision-making. You’ll know that the moves you make will be right ones, because they reflect the interests and motivations of your end user/customer. And with recent advances in online analytics, this information is easier than ever to collect, analyze, and visualize.