Campaigning in the Digital Age: How Facial Recognition is Revolutionizing Political Strategy

Facial recognition is a tech that can be used in political campaigns to measure emotions, predict voting behaviors, and improve overall campaign strategies

From the use of facial recognition in polling stations to measuring emotional responses in political ads, this technology has revolutionized the way political campaigns are conducted.

Analysis of the golden minute

One of the first applications that come to mind with facial recognition technology refers to ID verifications in polling stations. We can use this tech to identify voters and reduce the risk of voter fraud. You can compare the voter's face with their driver's license or passport photo on file and match the two images to verify their identity. This tech was effectively used during the 2020 US presidential elections in the state of Utah.

But we can go beyond ID verifications and see the emotional component of voters. A study looking at televised debates focused on the so-called "golden minute", a crucial part of the debate where candidates need to deliver a persuasive message to voters. The goal is to deliver your proposal, charm them and convince voters of your vision. 

Researchers analyzed micro-expressions, those lasting less than ⅕ of a second that are outside our conscious control. They can reveal our true emotional states so studying them can help us understand people more deeply. 

After analyzing the facial expressions of four Spanish political leaders the results showed that negative emotions were generally expressed during the golden minute to reinforce their arguments. Two of them frequently showed anger which could also come across as seriousness, importance, and confidence, while the other two candidates didn’t show this emotion. They exhibit different communication styles and some are more effective in pairing their emotions with their message.

Political ads

How are political ads created to effectively show certain emotions? 

By using facial recognition software, researchers are able to look at emotional message patterns displayed in political ads. A study analyzed 80,000 Facebook ads from eight candidates during the presidential primaries leading up to Super Tuesday in March 2020. The researchers found that the number of unique images that depict politicians was extremely small, only 0.5% of all image ads. Most Facebook image ads promote the candidate, while attack ads are relatively rare. 

However, Michael Bloomberg's campaign was an outlier, as a high proportion of his image ads were attacks, and he spent more on ads than any other candidate. 

Candidates were more prone to communicate happiness and calmness in their political ads, which is an unexpected result given the news narratives that negatively portrayed Facebook’s influence as a voter manipulator. 

Emotion recognition can be used to analyze the political ad itself or how people react to them, and by pairing the two, campaign managers can create more effective campaigns for their candidates.

Benefits of using emotion recognition

Here are some potential benefits to consider.

First, it can help to better target the audience. Facial recognition can help campaigns understand the emotions of their target audience, and tailor their messaging accordingly. For example, if the technology detects that a person is happy or excited, the campaign can deliver an upbeat message. 

Let’s say a campaign is running a series of TV ads. Facial recognition technology can be used to test how viewers respond to the ads, and which emotions they are experiencing. The campaign can then adjust the ads to better resonate with their target audience.

Emotion recognition also allows real-time feedback on how an audience is responding to a speech or campaign event. This can help campaigns adjust their messaging or delivery on the fly, to better resonate with the audience.

Let’s say a political candidate delivers a speech in front of a large audience. By using emotion recognition to analyze the emotions of the crowd the politician can help adjust the message to the audience in real time. The candidate's team can see that the audience is responding positively to their message and adjusts their delivery to capitalize on this.

By understanding the emotions of their audience, political campaigns can craft messages that are more persuasive and reach their voter more effectively.

Setbacks of this tech in political campaigns

While facial recognition technology has several benefits for political campaigns, there are also some potential setbacks to consider. 

One of the main concerns with using facial recognition technology is the issue of privacy. Facial recognition technology collects and analyzes sensitive personal data, and there is a risk that this data can be misused or accessed by unauthorized parties. This has raised concerns about potential data breaches and violations of privacy rights.

There is also a risk that facial recognition technology could be used inappropriately for political gain. For example, a political campaign could use the technology to target ads to individuals based on their emotions, without their knowledge or consent.

And third, implementing facial recognition technology can be expensive and require specialized expertise. For political campaigns with limited budgets and resources, this can be a significant barrier to adoption.

The takeaway

Facial recognition technology has revolutionized political campaigns by providing valuable insights into voter behavior, emotional responses, and campaign strategies. 

The technology can be used in various areas of political campaigns, including polling stations, political ads, and live events. 

As facial recognition technology continues to evolve, it will be important for political campaigns to consider the ethical implications of its use and take steps to ensure that it is used responsibly and transparently.

If you want to have a sneak peek into this amazing technology, visit our online platform and design your own tests. You might be surprised by what you see.

Let's Talk
Contact Us