The complex data environment in online political campaigning

There is increasing awareness about micro-targeting in digital campaigning. PI spoke to Dr Kate Dommett about this growing phenomenon, and the types of data used when targeting users with political ads.



When exposed to online political ads, individuals are usually - though not always - able to reliably identify the political actors behind the ad. However, there is little transparency in relation to the targeting mechanisms operating behind some of the ads - an users are rightly concerned.


Behind the social media curtain, political actors avail themselves of data collected through a range of sources to infer additional data about their voters. This allows political actors to build profiles of individuals segment voters on the basis of shared characteristics, and target them with ever more sophisticated advertising. This practice, known as micro-targeting, is gaining traction among political parties worldwide and remains largely unregulated.

Dr Kate Dommett tells PI about the phenomenon of micro-targeting, the role played by social media platforms in this practice, and the need for meaningful transparency going forward.