On the 4th April 2017, Cambridge Analytica visited our offices and presented the Data Science methodology they used to help Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.

Cambridge Analytica were tasked with the job of segmenting the American population with the aim of understanding who each citizen is and the best way to communicate to them about a topic they care about and in a language that resonates with them. Getting this right was the secret to Trump gaining support for his policies and presuading Democrat supporters to vote for him.

It was not the first time that Data was used to win a presidential election. Obama used data to gain support and win his campaign; Hillary used data for her campaign, had access to the same data as Trump’s digital teams and in fact had 3 times the budget of Trump’s campaign.

To help Trump win his campaign Cambridge Analytica focussed on the 3 core competencies of:

1. Data Science – the application of scientific methods to extract knowledge from data.

2. Behavioural Economics – The method of economic analysis to gain a deeper understanding of people’s decision making.

3. Psychographics – The study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyle.

The Psychographic component of the Cambridge Analytica’s segmentation was the game changer. Psychographic data was incorporated into the segmentation models by identifying the personality traits of American citizens using the OCEAN model. The OCEAN model stands for the 5 factors of the personality traits of Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.

The OCEAN model enabled Cambridge Analytica to identify which voters were more open to be persuaded to vote for Trump and personalised communications were crafted to these audiences containing content they personally cared about and in a language which resonated with their personality type.

One example Cambridge Analytica gave on how messaging would differ based on personality types was on how two different people would receive a communication on Trump’s gun policy. For someone who scored high in neoriticism, the gun policy would be communicated as a safety precaution or an insurance policy, whereas someone who scored high in agreeableness would receive a communication about how the gun policy gives citizens the opportunity to pass down a tradition of teaching sons how to use a gun.

The methodology deployed by Cambridge Analytica enabled Trump to win states that were previously majority Democrat voters such as Wysconsin.

Cambridge Analytica had collected up to 4,000 data points on each American citizen and enabled Trump’s campaign to be responsive to citizen sentiment.Through transforming big data into smart data Cambridge Analytica were able to help Trump win the campaign with only one-third of the budget that Hillary Clinton had. As the CEO of Cambridge Analytica said:

“Our industry was led by creative, but now it is driven by Data”

To help communicate to your audiences in a personalised and meaningful way contact our Senior Data Strategist Gina Choutis on 0400247209 or at gina.choutis@mercerbell.com.au to talk about your Data and how you best use it.