Obama 2012: The Most Micro-Targeted Campaign in History?
In his 2010 book "The Audacity to Win," Obama 2008 campaign director David Plouffe explained that the goal of the campaign was not only to ensure high participation and turn out from the Democratic base but also to expand the size of the electorate by mobilizing first-time voters among young adults and minorities. To reach these voters, the campaign focused on Internet and text message strategies, sending more than a 1 billion emails over the course of the campaign, and turning My.Barack.Obama.com into a powerful echo-chamber where all things campaign related were re-interpreted through the prism of a pro-Obama outlook.
In today's Washington Post, Dan Eggen adds to a series of articles at the Post and NY Times detailing the Obama 2012 campaign's even more advanced micro-targeting and Internet strategies. As Eggen writes, Obama's dog Bo and pet lovers have been added to the mix of targeting appeals:
For the Obama campaign, pet lovers are just one niche among many, with specific appeals aimed at women, African Americans, students, military families and countless others. The result is a campaign that might be the most micro-targeted in history, attempting to use the power of the Web and social media to reach ever-thinner slices of the electorate.
Nearly half of the Obama campaign’s March budget — $6.7 million — went toward Internet ads, many of them targeting specific demographic or interest groups. Romney has been less aggressive in micro-targeting efforts and has spent only a tenth as much on online advertising.
Pro-Obama Internet ads featuring Bo, which have run steadily in recent months, urge voters to“Bark for Barack” by donating to the campaign. Official “Pet Lovers for Obama” pages onFacebook, Pinterest and other social media sites feature pictures of the president and his dog and invite supporters to share their own pet photos.
The campaign also offers nearly a dozen Bo- or pet-themed products on its Web site, including a $12 “Cats for Obama” collar and a $35 red, white and blue “Obama Dog” sweater. “This adorable Obama dog sweater will keep your furry friend feeling cozy and looking stylish,” the description says.
Other subgroups targeted by the Obama campaign include nurses (featuring bumper stickers, magnets and T-shirts); Latinos (with a line of products including clothing and buttons); and young mothers (including a $20 “Babies for Obama” onesie).
The categories expand on Obama’s efforts in 2008, which pushed the boundaries of political campaigns by aggressively marketing the candidate to groups within the disparate Democratic base. The segmenting underscores the importance that turnout is likely to play in the tightening race between Obama and Romney.
Reasons to Be Concerned About Microtargeting
But there are disadvantages to this strategy. For one, regardless of where you stand politically, the increasing need to resort to ever more advanced social media strategies and targeted appeals should be troubling. As a consequence of our fragmented media system and our escalating culture of polarization, I and other scholars fear that moderates, young people, and minorities are opting out of public affairs news in increasing numbers.
And among partisans, the targeted appeals offered via Facebook, Twitter, and the Web only likely fuel further polarization. The "war on women" frame -- what is emerging as the main appeal used by Democrats to target women voters -- is just one of many possible examples.
Yet there is also another trap that echoes the weaknesses of the 2004 John Kerry campaign. Unlike 2008's "Change We Can Believe In," the Obama team in 2012 has struggled to produce an effective master narrative. In micro-targeting so many messages -- like Kerry in 2004 -- the Obama campaign may be offering so many different appeals that they end up offering messages for no one. This is a potential trap noted by Eggen in his article:
Peter Daou, a digital media strategist who worked for John F. Kerry’s and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaigns, said there’s a danger of losing sight of the broader themes and voter-organizing efforts needed to win elections.
“Some of this can be taken a little too far, because the macro environment is always going to override the narrow interests of various voters,” Daou said. “Once you’re getting down to pet lovers, I have a feeling that the bigger issues will override any of the work you do there. It can help on the margins, but that’s about it.”
Watch the clip below from the documentary on the 2004 campaign "So Goes the Nation," in which Bush strategist Mark McKinnon and Democratic strategist Paul Begala add further insight on this micro-targeting trap.
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A strange weakness in the Earth's protective magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
- "The South Atlantic Anomaly" in the Earth's magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
- The information was gathered by the ESA's Swarm Constellation mission satellites.
- The changes may indicate the coming reversal of the North and South Poles.
Is the Magnetic Field Reversing?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e3e0b16dac3b05dab808a4ddf04d198b"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/51usJ74pPP8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Would you ever have sex with a robot?
- In 2016, "Harmony", the world's first AI sex robot was designed by a tech firm called Realbotix.
- According to 2020 survey data, more than one in five Americans (22 percent) say they would consider having sex with a robot. This is an increase from a survey conducted in 2017.
- Robots (and robotic tech) already play a vital role in speeding up manufacturing, packaging, and processing across various industries.
From homemade dildos to Harmony, the AI sex robot<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3f7451615568e74c6a839f04329c9902"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-cN8sJz50Ng?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>"...amid an economic crisis, with restaurants and retailers closing their doors and larger companies laying off and furloughing employees, the sex tech industry is booming."</em><br></p><p>A Bustle <a href="https://www.bustle.com/wellness/the-sex-tech-industry-is-booming-amid-economic-crisis-22819801" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">article</a> published in April 2020, weeks after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, explored the drastic boost in the sex tech industry. According to the research, <a href="https://www.dameproducts.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dame Products</a> (a popular sex toy retailer) experienced a 30 percent increase in sales between the months of February to April, and popular sexual wellness brand <a href="https://unboundbabes.com/?utm_source=%7Bsource%7D&utm_medium=%7Bmedium%7D&utm_keyword=unbound%20babes&utm_matchtype=e&device=c&utm_campaign=%7Bcampaign%7D&utm_adgroup=%7Badgroup%7D&gclid=CjwKCAjw1v_0BRAkEiwALFkj5qYbdEwANUjCdRkCeVZ2HZzHjcGmpYbsOXYcMcNneLc2nySvrbaalBoChEsQAvD_BwE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Unbound</a> reported selling twice as many toys as normal in this period.</p><p>While the new coronavirus was crashing the economy in other ways, the sex tech industry was one of the few that actually saw improvements, likely due to people all over the world being advised, encouraged, and in some instances forced to stay at home.</p><p>Something similar happened in 2008, <a href="https://www.villagevoice.com/2010/08/23/the-great-recession-is-a-turn-on-for-the-sex-toy-industry/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">during the recession</a>: the sex toy industry was one of the only industries at the time that didn't gravely suffer. </p><p><strong>The evolution of sex tech from stone dildos to artificial intelligence.</strong></p><p><a href="https://sofiagray.com/what-is-the-history-of-sex-toys-from-stone-to-silicone-and-beyond/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The history of sex toys</a> is quite interesting. A 28,000-year-old siltstone dildo was uncovered in Germany in 2005. Luxury bronze dildos have also been found in China that are at least 2,000 years old.</p><p>Aside from various materials being shaped into dildos, there has always been an interest in how to advance sex technology, even before it involved actual technology at all.</p><ul><li>The 1700s: Steam-powered vibrators (such as the Manipulator).</li><li>The 1800s—1900s: The invention of the first electric vibrator (the Pulsoson) and "beauty tools" being used for sexual satisfaction (such as the Polar Cub massager)</li><li>The 1920s—1940s: The introduction of hand-held massagers (the Andis Vibrator) and compact devices (such as the Oster Stim-U-Lax)</li><li>The 1940s—1960s: Japan introduced the "Cadillac of Vibrators" (The Hitachi Magic Wand), which eventually made it's way to America.</li><li>1965: The invention of silicone, which most modern sex toys are made of.</li><li>The 1980s—1990s: The invention of the rabbit-style vibrator, made more popular with one of the first showings of a sex toy on television ("Sex and the City"). </li><li>The 2000s: Visual porn website Pornhub launched and sex toys became increasingly popular. Erotic literature also became more common and popular, with "50 Shades of Grey" and others like it. </li><li>The 2010s and beyond: Sex toys and technology start to blend, and the world's first internet-controlled sex toy was launched in 2010 by Lovense.</li></ul><p>In 2016, "Harmony", <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cN8sJz50Ng" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the world's first AI sex robot</a> was designed by a tech firm called Realbotix. </p>
From television shows to real-life applications, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more popular in all areas of human life.
Credit: Willyam Bradberry on Shutterstock<p>In 2020, more than one in five Americans (22 percent) say they would consider having sex with a robot. <a href="https://today.yougov.com/topics/science/articles-reports/2020/03/19/2020-both-men-and-women-are-more-likely-consider-h" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">YouGov conducted a study</a> in February 2020 that compared results from a similar study from 2017.<br></p><p>According to the results, 6 percent more people in 2020 are comfortable with the idea of having sex with a robot than in 2017.</p><p>YouGov points out that the increase in consideration is particularly significant among American adults between the ages of 18-34 years old. Additionally, how people feel about having sex with a robot has also changed. In 2020, 27 percent of Americans said they would consider it cheating if they had a partner who had sex with a robot during the relationship, compared to the 32 percent reported in 2017.</p><p><strong>"If you had a partner who had sex with a robot, would you consider it cheating?"</strong></p><p>The results from this interesting study also reveal that many people (42 percent) believe having sex with a robot is safer than having sex with a human stranger.</p><p>Robots (and robotic tech) already play a vital role in speeding up manufacturing, packaging, and processing across various industries. From television shows to real-life applications, artificial intelligence is becoming more and more popular in all areas of human life.</p><p>According to YouGov, "a <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-12/amazon-plans-high-end-echo-ramps-up-work-on-alexa-home-robot" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a> report outlining Amazon's plans for an Alexa-powered robot that follows and helps you around the home may redefine how these machines service humans in the near future." </p>
This space expansionist ideology marked the beginning of what Arendt called "earth alienation."
On Wednesday 30th May, billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX company launched its first human passengers into orbit from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, opening a door to the commercialization of space.