There's a lot of hype surrounding microtargeting -- which is the process of targeting voters scientifically based on consumer and demographic data. This piece in Salon yesterday on "Obama's super marketing machine" is no different. But as someone with a bit more than a passing understanding of what microtargeting is, I have to shake my head a little at articles like this. Because the media gets it almost completely wrong -- whether it's hyping relatively mundane technologies or celebrating "sexy" examples (dial up 40 year old Vodka drinking Volvo drivers!) that have almost no bearing on microtargeting's usefulness in real life.
The Salon story is a textbook "what George Bush/Barack Obama/John McCain knows about you" approach to the topic, of the kind we've seen on a pretty regular basis since 2004. Let's start the nitpick from the beginning: