These videos make the Microtarget story available to everyone. The Microtarget book presents the details of why the pollsters failed to predict Trump's victory. 


Introduction video

Here are the key ideas in Microtarget, in three parts:

  1. Different strategies. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's teams had different strategies to persuade swing voters.

  2. Overview of the series. A roadmap with highlights of each video in this series.

  3. Affordable influence. Only Trump's team prioritized microtargeted digital ads that make influence affordable. This is why he beat pollsters’ expectations.

The Mystery video

The world was shocked by the 2016 election because nobody thought Clinton could lose. The Mystery is about figuring out what tipped the election to Trump, in four parts:

  1. Swing voters surged. Pollsters' predictions were wrong because swing voters suddenly supported Trump.

  2. The Comey Letter. Correlation is not causation. How much impact did James Comey's letter really have?

  3. Clinton's digital team. Clinton used a spray-and-pray approach to persuade swing voters with impersonal messages from supporters and conventional ads.

  4. Cambridge Analytica. Trump's team wove together the election system with advertising technology to provoke the surge of swing voters.

Precedent video

  1. The impossibility of flight. It took five years for society to develop a collective understanding of human flight. Today we need a collective understanding of advertising technology.

  2. Kahneman and Tversky. These geniuses proved that when we can't imagine a chain of events that could lead to an outcome, we think that outcome is impossible. The defect is our imagination. To understand the 2016 election, we need a clear chain of events.

Persausion video

  1. Who is persuadable? Dan Siroker optimized Obama's website in 2008, increasing email sign ups from 8% to 11% — a $60M improvement! Siroker was able to influence people who liked Obama somewhat, but weren't sure if they liked Obama enough to sign up for his newsletter. Most people have firm opinions; the key is identifying persuadable people and sending them a compelling message.

  2. The Coupon Problem. Trump's team combined data onboarding with the voter file, which let them identify persuadable swing voters and influence them with digital ads. This made Trump's political ads more targeted than has ever existed in a presidential election.

The Election system video

  1. The voter file. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 made public the names and addresses of 185 million voters. That data was enabled surprising victories for George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 because it let them microtarget individual voters. Before 2016, candidates could only microtarget via direct mail. In 2016, Trump focused on microtargeting with online ads. Here’s an example of the Florida voter file.

  2. Early voting results. Another outcome of HAVA is that states release the names and addresses of people who vote early. Here is an example from the special election in Georgia's 6th district.

Skip to 33m40s to hear how Cambridge Analytica used early voting results and Facebook IDs to measure the effectiveness (“attribution”) of their political ads.

Project Alamo video

All of these factors coalesced in 2016 when Trump's team built Project Alamo to microtarget swing voters with personalized digital ads. 

  1. They used the voter file to identify voters.

  2. They used surveys to assign swing voters to small groups.

  3. They used early voting results for attribution, to identify the most effective ads so that they could amplify those messages just before Election Day.