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How Social Media, Microtargeting and Big Data Revolutionized Political Marketing

Hal Conick

Marketing has revolutionized politics. An expert discusses how it’s affecting November’s election.

The paradigm has shifted in U.S. politics. Out-of-nowhere candidates—such as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic-so​cialist Sen. Bernie Sanders—have grown less from the political canon and more from the will of the people. 

Marketing has been at the heart of this shift, according to Bruce Newman, professor of marketing and a Wicklander Fellow in business ethics at the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University in ​Chicago. In Newman’s latest book, The Marketing Revolution in Politics, he writes that President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns changed how politicians use marketing.

Obama’s campaigns used the latest in marketing technology, Newman says, including microtargeting, social media and Big Data, which he calls the “strategic triad.” Newman’s book juxtaposes how these forms have worked in for-profit, nonprofit and political sectors. 

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Hal Conick is a freelance writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at halconick@gmail.com or on Twitter at @HalConick.