Theresa May take note: New research shows voters are swayed by targeted ads

Research claims targeted advertising on social media does influence voters

Jeremy Corbyn is widely considered to have run a better election campaign than Theresa May

Monday, July 31, 2017

If you're a member of Theresa May's campaign team, you should read this article carefully. But if you're part of Jeremy Corbyn's team, you probably don't need the help.

New research has shown that using targeted adverts on social media in election campaigns can help parties win votes.

The research was conducted by the Online Privacy Foundation and was presented at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, according to The Guardian.

Targeted advertising uses people's psychographic profiles on social media to match adverts to their personalities, for example of Facebook.

Chris Sumner, co-founder of the Online Privacy Foundation, said: “Before the referendum results, the concern we had was that people’s biases were being manipulated, either intentionally or unintentionally.

“Now we’ve seen this [research], I’m as concerned as I was before.

“It’s not a surprise, it’s what we expected to see. People on one side, whichever side happens to be winning at the time, are going to say ‘no, it’s not a problem’, while people who have just lost are going to see it as a big problem.”

Despite the Conservatives winning the general election, Jeremy Corbyn performed far better than expected and many attributed this to his team's skilful use of social media. Indeed, The Guardian reports that digital strategists believe Labour did much better at social media campaigning than the Tories.

It is claimed that the Conservatives used adverts to target Labour marginals instead of instead of defending its own seats, whereas Labour didn't attack the Conservatives but instead tried to widen and cultivate the party's existing voter base.