Psychographics and Data Driven Marketing

You have heard about it in the news:  Psychographics.  This is something I know a little about, as I studied psychographics in college.  Many of my classmates just didn’t get it, and now all Americans are coping with the fact that their data from social media has been used in a deliberate attempt to sway their votes in the last presidential election.

Normally, psychographics is used to shape advertising for companies, like radio stations who want to appeal to hard rockin’ men, or maybe their girlfriends.  Movie producers will use psychographics to test ending to movies.  Politicians will use psychographics to understand what their constituents want, and word their political ads and speeches to show they are the ones to fulfill their needs.

Even a clever blogger could study other blogs and figure out what they really believe and pander to that.  A clever blogger could craft blogs to appeal to their current followers even better.  A really clever blogger could understand what motivates other readers so well that they could have a hit with every blog.  (I wish I was so clever.)

So how are your Facebook posts of family, fun, comedy, and how your day went useful to advertisers?  All of this information gives your basic demographic information:  sex, age, married or single,  and number of children, how old your children are, type and number of pets, and show an advertiser what you might need to make your life easier, happier, prettier, and more fun.

In addition, every like, can provide information about your likes and dislikes.  You don’t just like flowers and pets.  You like a political ad and share certain topics over and over again.  If you support the police, as opposed to black lives matter, you have registered a “vote” showing your political leanings.

There is nothing wrong with supporting the police.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging black lives matter.  In fact, the two things are not mutually exclusive.  It is only advertising presented as opinion that makes the two things seem mutually exclusive.

Even more powerful, is to make advertising look like news.  This is the real fake news.  One of our son’s saw an ad presented as a newscast of the showing Seattle’s Space Needle being moved by tractor trailer to a new location.  (I was unable to find a video of this.)  My son could not be persuaded until he saw the Space Needle in its place in Seattle.

But know there is some clever advertiser, maybe someone who has no business involving themselves in our election, taking your click, and putting them together with other clicks, and use them to craft messages to get an emotional reaction from you.  Messages that look like someone’s opinion, or a news article.

You don’t even have to agree with the messages.  You see the messages over and over again.  As the messages get crazier, maybe you begin to wonder.  With all the smoke, you start looking for the fire.

These messages are tweaked to mix truth with speculation.  There are kind, well meaning people willing to believe the most outlandish speculation.  There are people who can get carried along with the crowd as emotions rise.

A tool that started as a way to bring us goods, wonderful entertainment, and services to make our lives better, has been used to manipulate us.

Equating common sense gun legislation with Nazi Germany’s attempt to exterminate Jews, is an exaggeration of paranoid fear.   I have several friends who have shared that on Facebook.  They are all excited that something drastic will be done.  Our right to bear arms is the principle they agree with.  Just because it originates with the NRA does not mean it is real.  Do the majority of gun owners agree?  No.  Every survey says most gun owners want common sense gun control.  We get to decide what is common sense.

The solution is to be skeptical.  If something seems extreme, that you have not seen someplace else, anyplace else, except another social media site, you may have something designed to manipulate you.

You are bombarded by adds for everything.  Click on Wayfair once and it will be forever be in Facebook feed.  Don’t be a sucker for every add that comes along, and that is what these posts are, designed to look like a person’s opinion.


16 thoughts on “Psychographics and Data Driven Marketing

Add yours

  1. Great post! I deleted my FB account a few weeks ago. It wasn’t just because of this latest nonsense, though that was part of it (and the news about FB keeps getting worse), but the fact that FB was the most enormous time-suck of all social media. I blog and read my blog-feed, but it is never as consuming as FB conversations. All those notifications and everyone constantly chatting and updating their pics and just so much JUNK 24/7. People reposting headline article links on and on. Impossible to deal with really. No other media is like this, even if they are all collecting data too. I’m on Twitter, but I constantly block annoying stuff and it’s gone forever. There was never any way to block Tr*mp from my FB feed. Anyway. Good riddance and I see lots of others doing the same!


    1. FB is the connection with family that live far away. All those pictures of grand nieces ans nephews, the family pets, all the cousins! It is nice to know a little of what is going on across the country. Would I rather a call? SURE! But that just isn’t going to happen. I have blocked so much on FB it is remarkable I still have a feed. Way to much junk, but what if your life sucks to the point you have nothing real to say? Every few days I am asking some long term friend, what is their point in posting some nasty trash. They never respond, and for some reason they do not go away. I do limit my time. Twitter I started to help my blog, but I just don’t get it. The main point is, this doesn’t apply just to social media. Watch the motivations behind the message.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I do like all the flack FB is coping lately and how offended people are by them collecting data. I understand there is a little more at stake helping sway an election but as you point out swaying peoples thoughts has been happening for longer than FB has been doing it. The problem with FB isn’t that they are mining data, thousands of sites do it and even mail order companies do it and sell to the highest bidder. The problem is people over sharing.

    How many times have you seen someone link to questionnaire, that looks innocent (although 90% of people probably don’t even check where it originated from because their “friend” liked it). Then when you read the questions it’s carefully worded questions that could easily give away a persons identity. In some cases these surveys ask obscure questions but with what else is left on FB so much can be discovered.

    WordPress is not that different. How many of those awards things ask personal questions of the recipient before passing the award on? Sure by themselves the questions may not seem that personal but connect the answers to other stories on the blog, connect the blog to FB and other social media where photographs appear and other personal details and working out who a person is may not be that difficult.

    FB might have been caught doing something wrong, but they aren’t the only ones and the biggest problem is not the software/apps/programs, it’s the users and their blindness when they come to sharing stuff on the net.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep. For some it’s a insatiable desire to be liked and given attention, for some it’s naivety, either way it’s usually self inflicted.

        And on a completely different note. tell me a little bit about yourself, what’s you mum’s maiden name, your first pet’s name, your favourite colour and the last four digits of your bank account.


      2. Fake news is good news!
        If you’d sign this bit of paper for me, so I can analyse your hand writing and tell you about your ancestry that would be great too.


  3. Hi April,

    Interesting post. You raised a few great issues facing society.

    I’m unsure about the title though. You mention psychographics as thought it is a tool. Psychographics are used in segmentation of the audience to better understand their values, attitudes, and lifestyle. The psychographic traits of the segment are then used in conjunction with standard geodemograohic variables along with behavioural, to create an archestype of their target consumers. I think this would have been an interesting point to raise when talking about psychographics – it isn’t the name of a tool marketers use.

    Also, you didn’t mention too much about data driven marketing. I think you mentioned one primary source of research once.

    I was hoping for some research based insight into certain psychographic traits, but was a little disappointed this wasn’t what the article was actually about.

    Great article, but misleading title. I look forward to reading more of your posts, but I was looking for more research based insights into segmentation on this occasion.



    1. It sounds like your knowledge exceeds mine, but most people have no idea what psychographics is. Psychographic analysis is a tool. It can also be used to analyze a message, as in the subtle messages of a broadcast, a book, etc. Yours sounds like a marketing perspective, and there, I am limited. I thank you for your contribution, and thanks for reading.


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