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You may have seen my research on A/B testing reported by the @observer online, in print or via the #Marr show. Here is a full @Medium report by me on what the news article and @AndrewMarr9 show touched upon. Big ol' thread 1/

⬇️⬇️⬇️Read here ⬇️⬇️⬇️
Political parties using #Facebook ads have a powerful capacity to hone their messages. Unlike the past where expensive and hard to organise focus groups were the only avenue available for parties to test their messages; today all the political parties engage in #ABtesting 2/
Political parties have never had it so good, as it’s ‘us’ (the users), who help make this happen. Today party campaigning is Janus-faced, a fantastic example of this phenomenon is via the many faces of @joswinson the #LiberalDemocrats were recently pushing. 3/
Through your activity on Facebook, your data is helping political parties decide on the messages and visuals they will use throughout the general election campaign. 4/
All the parties are engaging in this process however the @joswinson example is especially clear. Given the increasing importance of leaders alongside the role of the personalisation of politics in campaign strategy, the Liberal Democrats are clearly trying to find the right Jo 5/
The Liberal Democrat’s interest in A/B testing is however not just pushed by an interest in presenting the leader, but is also spurred on by several key political factors. So what are they trying to achieve and why? 6/
Each Jo advert received a different audience, with some pronounced differences between age groups and genders. The party is generally reaching more women than men 7/
This is important as one key goal of the adverts is to prompt #clickthroughs, with parties interested in informing, activating and organising people dependent on their political position, location and socio-demographics. 8/
A/B testing allows the parties to reach and influence who they believe to be the most important voters. 9/
In A/B testing the best performing posts (according to goals) are continued while others are shut down. Of the 15 Jo adverts sent by the Liberal Democrats, they decided to retire 10 on the 31st of October and continue with 5. 10/
These 5 adverts that were still running until November 1st received no extra money, but gained more impressions (around 3000 more impressions each than ad’s 1 to 10). 11/
Of the remaining 5 images it is important to note that Jo 12 has been used heavily recently by the party across both Twitter and Facebook, while Jo 15 has been seen on the Liberal Democrat campaign bus and on leaflets. 12/
Recent use will likely be highly related to the clickthrough rates achieved via the adverts. The party is clearly trying to find images of Jo that energise the right sort of people to click, activating electorally important voters. 13/
At the moment this looks to be younger men and women, as well as older women. These groups are important demographic targets for the Liberal Democrats given the way the electorate voted in the 2016 EU Referendum. 14/
Although choosing the right advert image to campaign is a central outcome of A/B testing, other goals are also at play. A central one is gathering data. 15/
A main reason the Liberal Democrats will have selected Jo 12 and 15 over the others is due to more clickthroughs. In the early stages of an election campaign a party’s true goal is often data gathering. All the 15 Jo ads sent users through to the Liberal Democrat website. 16/
However, A/B testing is not just used to promote the best images of the leader or choose the best visuals. 17/
A central approach is via negative campaigning. This describes a party using negative content to attack the opposition, it can lead to a more negative campaign environment reducing voter turnout and increasing radicalising politics. 18/
These negative messages are more often being focused at men as is the case with these Liberal Democrat Anti-Corbyn adverts 19/
It is important to note that it is not just the Liberal Democrats who engage in this process, examples of positive and negative A/B testing are visible from both the Conservative Party and Labour Party. 20/
One can see a subset of advert images sent by the #Conservatives from 8th to the 13th of August 2019. Across dozens of adverts different versions of Corbyn as well as floating arms, are seen ‘stuffing the ballot box’ with #remain tickets. 21/
All the posts featured this text that speaks directly to a #people versus #Parliament narrative:

Politicians like Jeremy Corbyn are only respecting remain votes — and ignoring 17.4 million leave voters. ❌
Add your name now — don’t let him get away with it. ⬇️

These adverts were again aimed at men. 23/
Why negative personalised adverts appear to be focused centrally on men is interesting and has not been a focus of researchers. It may be due to Brexit voting patterns... 23/
...however, given how both Liberal Democrats and Conservatives push Corbyn focused content towards men this is an area requiring further investigation. 24/ END (out of space, read the article!)
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