Political parties in this general election will have a greater ability to segment the voting population and reach them with bespoke communication than at any time in the history of British democracy.
As this is the case, the volume of political advertising and the number of messages used is likely to increase substantially during this campaign.
This is largely a good thing: the fact that political parties are able to make their pitch relevant to their audience will help build a sense of empathy amongst politicians for their constituents, whilst making it easier for voters to understand the parties’ positions on the issues that are likely to matter to them.
But one significant negative consequence of the technology is that due to the highly targeted nature of such techniques, the specifics of the messages will be much less visible to those who might normally attempt to hold campaigns to account for their claims (or, in my case, document them gleefully).
Here’s where I need your help: if you see a piece of digital political communication that you suspect has been tailored to you in some way, I would really appreciate you taking a screenshot of it and emailing me on benedict ((at)) politicaladvertising ((dot)) co ((dot)) uk.
Perhaps it mentions the area you live in, or speaks to the sector that you work in, it might reference an aspect of your cultural heritage, or it might highlight an issue that you have been looking into online.
Any help will be hugely appreciated.
A group of people with much more technical know-how than me over at Who Targets Me? have developed a desktop browser extension that extracts and analyses each political advert shown to you on social media. You can download the extension here.