Deep Dive: How Data Helped Political Micro-targeting In Lok Sabha Elections 2019

PM Modi Lok Sabha Elections 2019
PM Modi Lok Sabha Elections 2019
PM Modi on Kedarnath trip. Image Source: Twitter

Exit polls 2019 point towards a landslide victory for Modi-led BJP with 312 seats, indicating that the ruling party will come back to power. Even as a section of political pundits spars over the reliability of exit polls 2019, one thing is certain — data was at the center of campaign this year.

Dubbed as India’s big data election, 2019 Lok Sabha polls saw advanced analytics and algorithms converging to fine-tune political messages for their targeted voter base. While the real winner, PM Modi or Rahul Gandhi will be declared on May 23, we see how big data (generated thanks to the explosion of social channels) was one of the key drivers of targeted political campaigning in 2019.  

Today, elections are being won on the back of constituency-level data and it is no surprise that political parties are tapping into the voter base with data-driven fine-tuned political messages that are further tweaked according to voter sentiment. With social media emerging as a key influencer in the Lok Sabha 2019 elections, programmatic advertising has become an essential tool in the political campaigner’s toolkit.


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By analyzing online browsing patterns through clickstream analysis, political parties are now fine-tuning their messages according to voter sentiment in the particular constituency by a thorough analysis of various data points that includes age, education, caste, religion, past political affiliations. What’s more, analytics companies are now just doing that — helping companies pitch relevant political messages that are further fine-tuned according to the user engagement, with these pitches.

Bhargav Patel,
Bhargav Patel, CEO, and Co-founder, IQM

AIM caught up with Bhargav Patel, Co-founder & CEO, IQM, an audience intelligence platform that works with political campaigners and parties to help them deliver more informed decisions on messaging, frequency, and build a compelling message that is targeted to the voter base and constituency across digital platforms. The end result influence voters to go to the polls. At the end of the day, the mandate is to get the votes delivered.

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Data Guides Political Campaign Messaging To Micro-target Voters

At IQM the mandate was to gather and analyze data to build targeted political campaigns. The company entered the Indian political arena for the first time and has carried out 20 campaigns so far, helping politicians tailor messages as per their constituency and voter sentiment. “What we essentially do is provide analytics and activations. And when we say analytics, it means aggregated data analytics on a constituency level about the news consumption and news sentiment toward political parties. Based on that, they can activate media buying on our platform,” he said.

From Maharashtra to UP and even South Indian states, this New York-headquartered company which has run 500 campaigns globally entered the Indian political landscape for the first time. The company churns out insights based on details like device ID, cookie, sentiment analysis to create the perfect score for the candidate.

The company has third-party integrations with all the ad exchanges, for example, Google double click, InMobi, Pubmatic. “We analyze data in one particular vertical, and we go very deep into that particular vertical and apply advanced analytics to understand what is trending and how it is trending at the constituency level. On top of that, we also, layer the publicly available information in digital news. This information is delivered in the form of ads,” shared Patel.

The display ads or video ads are displayed on popular platforms like gaming apps, news sites that people are consuming on their mobile devices or on their computers. “We display that on those platforms in the form of display ad or video ads, or interactive HTML ads,” he said.

Social Media The New Ground For Mining Political Data  

Rahul Gandhi Lok Sabha Elections 2019
Rahul Gandhi holding a press conference

Today, digital channels capture important details pertaining to location, age, education, political affiliation, caste, religion and professional credentials. After mining this personal data collected through social media channels and apps, parties/IT cells build predictive models to understand the demographic constituency-wise. Essentially, these granular insights/predictions help parties decided where to direct their resources for campaigning and drive voter audience to the booth in to get results in their favor. Clouds still loom over the General Elections 2019 result — it is yet to be seen whether it is Modi 2.0 or Congress. And if BJP is voted back to power, then it would have another battle with data.

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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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