Some learnings from Cambridge Analytica

Some learnings from Cambridge Analytica

If you are in the digital marketing world, you should have heard about the Cambridge Analytica latests scandals. The first time I heard about it was how they harvested 50M profiles from Facebook, a few days ago. Today I read some allegations on their influence on Trump’s victory. This is not a blog about politics, so I am going to skip this part. Instead, I want to focus on the digital marketing side. Before progressing, I recommend you read the last link I have shared, which is what has inspired this post.

The down side

Let’s start with the obvious: Facebook has lost a lot of credibility and value. I do not have a crystal ball to predict the future, but it looks like Facebook will take a large hit. First message from this post: you should re-evaluate your paid social strategy. I am not saying that you stop your campaigns immediately, but just be aware that things can change very quickly. It can go both ways: on the one hand, because of less competition, your social ad prices will drop, so you will be able to get more traffic for the same price; on the other hand, if the reputation keeps falling, those ads could easily become a liability. Or, maybe, nothing happens and you can continue with your regular activities. What would be a big mistake is take any of these three options for granted.

One final comment. In my small world around me, in the last few years, I have seen more and more people tired with Facebook. Especially since the algorithm has become too biased and people share less.

The bright side

This is the main reason for this post. Let’s go back to the second Guardian article. Now put your digital marketeer hat on and forget your political views. It explains a typical digital marketing strategy and, what it more important for us, how well it works.

  • Multi-channel. The best results are observed when your marketing campaigns uses all the channels. Trump’s campaign used “Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube”. I am surprised they did not use email or on-site personalisation. So, if only they managed to win with the previous channels, I cannot imagine what they would have achieved if they included the latter two. You will also notice that Hillary Clinton, confident of her election, dismissed YouTube.
  • Segmentation. According to the Guardian, “different categories of voters according to the detailed geographical information” and “geographical information suggested they were not fervent Trump”. Cambidge Analytica analysed the target audience and created segments. This is exactly what you should be doing: analyse your target audience and create different groups.
  • Personalisation. With the previous segmentation in place, they showed different ads to each of the segments. I am not discovering anything new. In fact, it is still surprising to see marketeers who do not do it.
  • Break silos. Another interesting quote in the article says “[t]here was no database of record. There were many disparate data sources that were not connected, matched or hygiened”. Sounds familiar? It definitely does for me. The single source of the truth is not a myth, it should always be the norm.
  • First party data. Again, another quote that shows the importance of owning your own data: “[o]ne of the first things Cambridge Analytica did, she said, was work with data supplied by the party’s data trust and other data acquired through an initiative called Project Alamo”. Many marketeers rely only or mainly on 3rd party data. However, remember that this data can also be acquired by your competitors, so you will lose any potential competitive advantage. We are shown again the need for 1st party of good quality.
  • Feedback. You always need to close the loop. It is not enough to just create a campaign and run it. You must continuously adjust it. This is where the analytics part comes into play.

In summary, for better or worse, the Trump campaign and the leaked information from Cambridge Analytics, have shown us how to create a successful digital marketing strategy. I do not think that Cambridge Analytica did anything new. In fact, I believe most of you reading my blog have the knowledge to do exactly the same.

If they managed to bring Mr. Trump to the US presidency, imagine what you can do with your business with these proven techniques!

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