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that Pfeffle knows all about, along with his adviser Dominic Cummings:

Instead of stuffing an ideology down people's throats via TV and radio, a spin doctor has to tailor different messages to different social media groups.

A country of 20 million, the chatty digital director of Vote Leave, Thomas Borwick, told me, needs 70 to 80 types of targeted message. Borwick's job is to connect individual causes to his campaign, even if that connection might feel somewhat tenuous at first.

In the case of the vote to leave the EU, Borwick, who seems to approach such challenges like a Rubik's Cube, claimed that the most successful message in getting people out to vote had been about animal rights. Vote Leave argued that the EU was cruel to animals because, for example, it supported farmers in Spain who raise bulls for bullfighting. And within the "animal rights" segment Borwick could focus even tighter, sending graphic ads featuring mutilated animals to one type of voter and more gentle ads with pictures of cuddly sheep to others.

I'd heard of similarly varied messaging used by spin doctors across the world. The challenge with this sort of micro-targeting is that it requires some big, empty identity to unite all these different groups, something so broad these voters can project themselves on to it - a category such as "the people" or "the many". The "populism" that is thus created is not a sign of "the people" coming together in a great groundswell of unity, but is actually a consequence of the people being more fractured than ever, of their barely existing as one nation. When people have less in common than before, you have to create a new version of "the people" for every election. As too many concrete policies and coherent ideologies would risk alienating parts, these pop-up people need to be united around a leader's personality and a vague feeling, such as "take back control" or "optimism". Facts are a hindrance rather than a help: you are not trying to win a rational debate with floating voters; you want to say whatever gets more attention in fragmented social media groups, where the more outrageous you are the more likes you'll get. Indeed there is something of a rush in throwing a middle finger up to facts, farting at glum reality. Trump and Johnson are both products of this environment.

Identify the hot buttons (animal rights, climate "scepticism", ecologists are fascists, etc) of different groups of people, hook them into a larger narrative around some vague aspiration unconnected with reality : this was always to some extent the MO of politicians on the hustings. But it's now a cyberworld-scale industry that really works. Which Pfeffle has reason to know.


Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sat Jul 27th, 2019 at 03:20:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is an Advertising 101, channel placement and value proposition solution for economic waste. Y'all like efficiency, dontcha.

When I started out in the '80s, a large agency (national or global footprint) could easily commission focus group assays in "major markets" (say, metro-areas > 1M) to estimate preferences on any topic ("hot button" a/k/a pain-point a/k/a value proposition) among representative respondents (src = census data, periodical and newspaper circulation, NIELSEN feedback, proprietary market intelligence, etc). Agency compiles data, recommends media mssg and buys to advertiser, collects vig.

The only thing that has changed in the methodology over the past 30+ years is (1) sample size (n) response speed provided by internet telecom (2) redundancy and (3) names of the players --agencies, advertisers, market segment a/k/a target market a/k/a social media group. A "5000 data point" claim for each and every person with a phone is vainglorious reach for "value added."

I tried to watch Netflix documentary "The Big Hack" but fell asleep repeatedly. This ...material purports to reveal the nefarious objectives (revenue) and clientele (advertiser) of Cambridge Analytica (agency)  operations in the UK and USA. But the only news (to me) in the director's nominee for anti-hero, Brittany KAISER. Kaiser reportedly learned everything she knows in the last decade, from internship with the Obama campaign. She ascribes to herself kudos for identifying a NEW! segment "persuadables." Now she's appalled with herself having taken the $$ to support her infirm parents.

Communication isn't a problem. The message isn't even a problem. Isn't the problem more likely than not the people who don't know what they want, whether shoe or government?


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Jul 27th, 2019 at 04:17:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point seems to me to be that social media groups are identified who do know what they want, or at least who hold a strong belief that they know what they want. Animal rights, for example, can unleash passionate violence in people. The trick then is to persuade those people, by fine-grained delivery of ads, that what they want is part of some more general scheme. Force-feeding geese and bull-fighting are evil, they are permitted in Europe, therefore the EU is evil, I am going to vote for Brexit.

Otherwise, you're right that the methods used are fundamentally those the advertising industry has been using for over half a century. The difference in speed and fine-grained delivery doesn't create a new paradigm, it does, however, up the game enormously. To the point where one may fairly say, this is a whole new ball game.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Jul 28th, 2019 at 07:41:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More on how this works in this interesting article about a close friend of Pfeffle's:

Revealed: Johnson ally's firm secretly ran Facebook propaganda network

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Fri Aug 2nd, 2019 at 08:55:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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