Russell Parsons: Has data been trumped by mass media?

The battle for the White House is nearing completion and Donald Trump has set his sights firmly on mass media rather than using data-driven marketing to push his cause.

Russell Parsons

This article was first published on 27 October. It has been updated to reflect today’s news.

The titanic battle for the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has reached its final stages and it is the bluster of the property tycoon turned reality show star that won over the highly-qualified pragmatism of the former Secretary of State.

Yet it is safe to say that the marketing strategy and tactics employed by Donald J Trump are unlikely to be seen again. The Republican nominee’s methods characteristically eschew convention.

READ MORE: Marketing in the age of Trump

Take his views on data use in political campaigns for example. Trump told Associated Press earlier this year that he felt the sophisticated, precise, data-driven targeting of segments – earmarked by pundits as key to President Obama’s successful 2008 and 2012 campaigns and eagerly adopted by Hillary Clinton’s team – was “overrated”. Rallies that generate billions in earned media that is then amplified by the candidate and his followers are his preferred methods.

Trump’s rejection of data is very much part of his anti-establishment rejection of all received wisdom and 100% faith in the power of the cult of Trump.

Data concerns

There are, however, genuine issues around data use among consumers. People are feeling “overwhelmed” about the volume of data-driven marketing they are subjected to, according to research from Aimia.

Separate research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing makes for even more sober reading for marketers. Almost a full house of consumers (92%) do not fully understand how organisations use their personal information, fuelling a lack of trust that led to 57% questioning whether brands are using data responsibly.

READ MORE: How to avoid being deleted by consumers

Amid the gloom there is a possible road to recovery, with nearly 70% saying they would share personal information if organisations were more open around how they use it.

There are many opportunities in data but there are more ways to piss people off. A truer value exchange is needed with brands exceeding consumers’ expectations and offering something more than better-targeted advertising in return for their data. The battle for the White House may be over, but the fight to find the right data balance goes on.

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