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November 4, 2016updated 14 Nov 2016 11:29am

Will a British big data company win Trump the U.S. election?

Trump campaign is targeting voters across America.

By James Nunns

Donald Trump and his campaign for the Presidency of the United States has turned to a UK based big data analytics firm to try and win over voters.

Cambridge Analytica has been paid large sums of money, $5m in September alone, to try and help influence voters and how they will vote.

With data on 230 million adults in the U.S. and around 4,000 data points on each of them, the hope is that all of this information can help the Trump campaign understand how individuals will lean politically, and how to potentially influence a change of mind.

The data includes things like transaction information from loyalty card, charity donations, gym memberships and more that the Trump campaign is using.

CEO Alexander Nix, told NBC News: “The more you know about someone, the better you can engage with them and the more relevant you can make the communications that you send to them, so our job is to use data to understand audiences.”

The information, which doesn’t include health or financial data, is enough for the analytics company to paint a picture about the individuals and allow the campaign to understand their interests, ideologies and what issues they care about.

Insights are also being gained from things like TV-watching habits and religious affiliations, this allows for psychological attributes to be profiled.

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Cambridge Analytica calls this approach Behavioral Microtargeting.

Cambridge Analytica calls this approach Behavioral Microtargeting.

The way that these insights can then be turned into action may be through a social media message, TV ad, a letter, or the scheduling of a rally in a neighbourhood that may be able to effectively target a group of voters that may be swayed.

Although this kind of big data use can help to deliver much more focused marketing and campaign efforts it has been criticised by privacy campaigners.

The likes of Big Brother Watch have called for people to be told about how and why their data is being collected and what it will be used for.

Cambridge Analytica describes itself as using “big data and advanced psychographics to identify key influencers, grow audiences and move people to action. The company was created in 2013 as an offshoot of its parent company SCL Group.

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