4Nanotargeting and Automation of Political Discourse

This chapter seeks to detail what we call the “automation of political discourse”, a concept developed from three main elements: first, nanotargeting, which constitutes the action of automated political discourse1; second, algorithmic governmentality, which constitutes its method; and third, the public space of “communicative capitalism” (Dean 2005), which constitutes its emerging context.

4.1. On nanotargeting

4.1.1. Segmentation

The notion of target audiences has been used for a long time and is common in marketing. However, this segmentation is accentuated by communication technologies. In terms of supply, the public has access to an exponential choice of media channels and opportunities for interaction with them. This fragmentation makes the planning of advertising campaigns more complex, while making it possible to select the audiences targeted by these same campaigns: it is the transition from broadcasting (broad) to narrowcasting (reduced) (Du Plessis 2012).

These new technological possibilities facilitate an extreme segmentation of the market, which thus becomes an alternative to product differentiation (Baines et al. 2003). In short, it is no longer necessary to offer a product – or a message – that stands out from the others: it becomes necessary to offer the message to the right person, when they are in a good state of mind to receive it. Segmentation mainly operates, in this sense, in what could be called a ...

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