Digital Campaigns May Decide the Election

BY Hari Sreenivasan  October 29, 2012 at 3:30 PM EST

I’m a registered independent who lives in a battleground state, but I’m also what’s known as an off-the-grid voter, meaning I’ve lived with a DVR for a decade and fast forward right through those campaign ads. I haven’t had a land line phone for almost as long, so I don’t get those phone calls at dinner time. But somehow the campaigns have been stalking me.

This is the first election where the vault of readily available consumer data on me (or someone like me) is combined with the trail of digital data I generate throughout my life. We took a long look at this for a film on Frontline which you can watch in its entirety here.

If you’re interested in finding out how and where you are generating this digital trail that the campaigns are tracking, check out this very cool interactive feature Frontline has built.

We split the film into two parts for the NewsHour. Part one examines how much data exists about all of us.

It airs on Monday, (as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the eastern seaboard), and we’ll have a live screening and chat of Part two after the broadcast. You can join here, pending I have power in my apartment.

Part two takes a look at how the campaigns are using their digital teams and tools to gain more information on you and to laser target messages in ways traditional offline media never could.

While we can never say with any certainty which demographic swings this election toward the winner, we can with some authority say the electorate has been targeted this year more than ever before. And in the coming years, we’ll continue to generate more data with the content we consume online, the items we purchase and the searches we request. By 2016 expect the bullseye on your back to be even bigger.

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