Cambridge Analytica Slammed for Psychographic Advertising

psychographic advertising

Now that we know Cambridge Analytica used psychographic advertising for political gain, is the revenue model for Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter a violation of personal privacy?

Should advertisers, marketers, and developers be allowed to target advertising based on psychographics profiles?

That’s the question everyone’s asking, despite the fact we willingly surrender any reasonable expectation of privacy every time we share our personal opinions online.

Social networks have been segmenting users based on psychographics for over a decade. 

We should all know by now that whenever the media we consume is free, our attention is being sold to advertisers to pay for that media, and we, rather than the media, are the product.

Psychographic vs Demographic Advertising

Mass media pays the bills by selling ads based on demographics.

And online media pays the bills by selling ads based on psychographics.

Facebook is and always has been a psychographic advertising platform.

And while the richest profile and social graph data a marketer can analyze these days may come from Facebook – since their Edgerank algorithm pairs likes, comments, and shares with extended user profile info – digital marketing agency pros do the exact same thing on every other social media platform.

YouTube, Twitter and Linkedin are digital psychographic advertising platforms as well.

Even Amazon mines profile data to recommend stuff to buy.

That’s what big data marketing analytics are all about, and they’re not going away. As my grandma Thelma used to say, a leopard doesn’t change his spots.

Cambridge Analytica got hit first, waking us all up to psychographic profiling.

But what they did, albeit a tad more sophisticated, is what Amazon does to serve product recommendations and what Facebook, Twitter and Google do to sell ads.

Big data is data about you that’s been analyzed, interpreted and segmented to try and get to take some sort of action.

Social networks sell ads based on user profiles they surveil. Amazon and Netflix make recommendations based on user data they surveil.

Social customer relationship management or consumer surveillance services have actual platforms that are used to improve customer loyalty by assembling rich customer profiles that can be used to drive better marketing by amassing psychographic segmentation variables from multiple sources in a single database.

Value of Data Analytics

When you use a loyalty rewards card to save money at the checkout counter, you’re selling your purchasing history to someone, somewhere, who can sell it to someone else to build a consumer profile about you.

For the consumer’s standpoint, what you say and buy in digital environments leaves a record behind, and managing those records is what online reputation management is all about.

Imagine how well you could predict someone’s behavior – particularly someone unaware of what psychographic profiling is all about – if you could combine their Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Yelp, and shopping data into one extensive digital dossier.

When Aetna bought CVS, the forward-looking prospect driving that deal was the ability to combine purchase history data with health records to price your insurance premiums.

Think about that next time you use social sign-in options like these on a third-party website.

Without critical thinking skills, ease of use comes at a price, and in this case, it’s the ability to download your profile information into a database.

So if you’re surprised about the Cambridge Analytica “scandal,” you shouldn’t be. And if you think there’s any way Zuck can protect you, you’re dreaming.

Social Media Posts Forfeit Your Expectation of Privacy

When you share information on social networks, you’re giving up your right to privacy because it’s unreasonable to think that you can keep it private after sharing something publicly on Facebook or Twitter.

You’ve forfeited any reasonable expectation of privacy.

Having sex at home is private, but having sex in a glass elevator is not.

Social networks are glass elevators.

It’s incredibly naive to be shocked that advertisers are using profile information for psychographic profiling, particularly at this point in the game.

Regulation isn’t the answer either. It would be nothing more than a congressional witch hunt, which I doubt would yield meaningful consumer protections.

We already take ads on TV with a grain of salt.

Social Media Misinformation

We need to learn to take silly Facebook ads that shoot to the top of our newsfeed  – cause they’ve been liked, commented and shared by our connections – with the same healthy skepticism, although I’m skeptical, in this post-truth era, if that will ever happen.

Psychographic factors don’t have to drive consumer behavior. We can circumvent their effectiveness through education. But getting educated requires motivation to learn.

After all, it’s just an ad. It can’t make up our minds for us. The problem is when we’re besieged by misinformation all the time, facts become truths.

Government regulations can’t protect us from ignorance. We need sharper critical thinking skills. And we need smart tools to help us predict outcomes.

Government regulators have not adapted their rules to the digital media environment.

Want to make a difference? Mentor a kid.

Teach someone fairmindedness and intellectual integrity. Show them how to evaluate arguments from many points of view.

When questionable psychographic advertising tactics provoke international hysteria, it’s time to invest in the intellectual evolution of our species.

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