The DatAdat model of rethinking political participation in the Digital Era

Engage, understand and mobilize

The symbiotic fields of media and marketing intersect and overlap with politics on vital points. While it is morally and practically imperative to be mindful of the differences, like marketing politics does involve the selling of a product (a party, a candidate or a slate of candidates, along with their platform), as well as media – a substantial chunk of which pertain to public affairs issues – and communication, the essential ingredients of political “marketing”.

As is readily apparent, the realms of marketing and media are undergoing fundamental transformations these days. This involves the shattering of longstanding and previously successful business models, and as a result the shocking and in historical comparison rapid disappearance of some major market players (goodbye Newsweek, Life, etc.) and the astonishingly quick rise of new market players (when did you first hear of Vice media, Breitbart, Vox etc.?).

That the underlying changes would sooner or later also have massive political ramifications was clear not only in hindsight. Although no one could have predicted how these changes would play out specifically, it was easy to foresee that vast transformations were in the air. In our public discourse, many of the controversial new developments in present-day politics are attributed exclusively to policy or political failures. This may be true to some extent but nevertheless fails to take into account the monumental changes affecting the media and marketing environment in which democratic politics has to operate.

In order to thrive in this environment, politicians must take some cues from the emerging business models of new media and marketing companies, as well as from the established corporations that have adapted successfully to the digital era. This will require new solutions in communicating with voters, keeping in touch with them and convincing them to turn out and vote or, ideally, to actively immerse themselves in the democratic process spanning the time between elections.

Our digital product is aimed at consolidating, nurturing and expanding the political base of an organization or politician (let’s call them our clients, for that’s what we would like them to be), and it uses a three-pronged model based on engaging, understanding and mobilizing the voters.

There are some key insights from modern marketing technology (Martech) that our software seeks to reflect. For one, communication can and should never be one way, that is politicians must exploit the new digital opportunities to allow voters to mutually interact with them, offer feedback and criticisms, voice preferences and actively shape the political agenda.

Second, politicians now have the tools and thus the obligation to increasingly customize their messages to diverse groups in an increasingly diverse society. In many walks of life, blanket communication fails to satisfy either the specific interests of relevant social substrata or their emotional needs. Third, just as in marketing, Big Data is essential to fully understand the electorate and your own voters within that macro category. And just as business no longer works without Big Data, politics cannot operate successfully without it, either.

To be relevant for political use, data must above all be legal, well-organized and pertinent, and this is where we come in. Your organization must learn to collect relevant information while filtering out irrelevant stuff; to organize the data in a way that simultaneously lends itself for active use in political campaigns and to data analysis about the voters in the background; and, last but definitely not least, to communicate with the voter in a way that will render your commitment to an engaged discourse apparent to them.

Let us take you through in the following posts each of the three segments that make up our circular model of democratic engagement in the 21stcentury: engage, understand and mobilize.

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