The advent of machine learning and data mining alongside social media’s mass adoption created a new status-quo.
An interconnected, brilliant, awe-inspiring new reality where everyone, regardless of their background, can find a voice and a platform through social media to express themselves to anyone who will listen.
Our history now includes a billionaire tech mogul testifying across the US congress , , a presidential campaign allegedly conspiring with foreign superpowers to manipulate the outcome of the democratic process , , and a dozen more examples coming to light about attempts to distort public opinion and sway elections across the globe to the highest bidder’s preferred outcome , , , .
The "truthfulness" of these allegations is inconsequential.
The noteworthy fact is that they happened in the first place!
However, we want to demonstrate how we used Keyword Cupid to study the paid advertisements President Trump’s campaign is using on Facebook, Google, etc. and group them to derive themes and meaning in an unsupervised way.
These themes provide insight into how his campaign managers want their target audience to perceive him, the world, and his opponent, Joe Biden.
This study is apolitical.
Our approach uses an entirely unsupervised and unbiased ensemble of machine learning models to discover these advertisements’ underlying meaning and user intent.
Our goal is to understand the main topics that the United States’ current administration’s advertising team communicates with its audience.
In short, rather than using machine learning to influence others, we are using is to learn how it is used to control its audience.
This contains views of the author that express only his own beliefs and are in no way affiliated with other legal entities or individuals.
Short Intro To Keyword Cupid
In other words, it provides insight into how Google perceives different queries.
We rely on Google because it is the most advanced search engine on the planet and has more than 4 billion users .
Using an ensemble of data mining tools, such as deep neural networks and unsupervised machine learning algorithms, Keyword Cupid can organize and cluster the entities we provide that have the highest commonality in the eyes of Google.
We do this to be completely impartial and unbiased without making any assumptions of the messaging or inserting our guesses as to why the puzzle fits a certain way.
Our job is to observe and interpret the results of what Google associates together as being similar and speculate as to why.
If you want to find more information on how KC works, look at our how-to guide.
Why Analyze the Pay Per Click Ads?
However, the reason we are doing this analysis of images used in paid advertising channels such as Facebook is that:
- Facebook Ads are the most engaging means of current Pay Per Click Ad platforms, as they tend to immerse with a user’s newsfeed from their friends and therefore tend to bypass the filter of our reptilian brain that tries to minimize the exposure to the unknown.
- These campaigns are not cheap, so that we can expect many thought processes behind the underlying messaging.
- Images are a powerful medium and the words paired with this visual can directly affect the subconscious level.
Plug Keyword Cupid? Hey, we still need to pay the bills, alright.
In all seriousness, Keyword Cupid uses an ensemble of totally unbiased models that have no preconceived notion of what we think is relevant and rely entirely upon what the direction the articles in WWW points us to.
Cleaning The Data
This database contained about 51K images used as creatives for paid advertisements for Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Also known as “data massaging”...
This phrase always made me sort of uncomfortable.
Maybe buy me a drink first??
Squeezing The Ad’s “Juice”
Using a proprietary OCR software we built in-house, we scraped the text from the images to analyze the language that emerges from these advertisements.
Platforms such as Facebook and Google are expensive and capture a comprehensive set of audiences.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume the messaging of an advertising image is very intentional and targeted.
To test our models’ capabilities, we first extract the most meaningful part of the ad campaign’s image.
For example, take these two ads:
They offer little to no information on the meaning of the ad.
Moreover, had we included these phrases, one could advocate that we “helped” Google understand that this text referred to surveys by the Trump campaign.
After applying our Optical Character Recognition algorithm, the images we end up looking something like this:
Uploading The Data
Therefore, we are not interested in monthly search volume or ranking difficulty.
We simply want to understand what themes emerge from the underlying sentences.
That’s why we used the “Simple Keyword Report” from Keyword Cupid.
This tool allows you to enter your keywords in a comma-separated list.
We specified that we wanted to cluster based on Google’s mobile phone results in New York City.
After our report is complete, we are ready to analyze the clustering results.
Election Parent Cluster
The name of this cluster eludes that it contains advertisements related to the actual 2020 election.
As we inspect all of the underlying thematic entities, we see that the cluster's name is a good indicator of what it contains.
Keyword Cupid has done a great job of organizing all the different content connected with the upcoming election.
There are many emotionally heavy words used, such as “slipping,” “afraid,” “worried,” “can we trust,” “dangers,” “defeat.”
Interestingly, Keyword Cupid’s algorithm captures negative intent and groups only the emotionally charged keywords in one cluster.
Below we provide the respective images to the related phrases in this grouping.
Feedback On Speeches
All the advertisements in this cluster center around President Trump’s speeches and conventions.
Our algorithm unraveled the intent of the president’s ad campaign, which is to connect with the public and gather feedback on their acceptance of different speeches Trump gave.
2020 Trump Versus Biden
The ads’ intent in this cluster is different from the previous because it contains mostly phrases with the “vs” intent.
These phrases all centered around comparing and contrasting or opposition.
A parallel intent found in this cluster is a victory survey meant to act as a lead magnet for the campaign managers.
2020 Trump Versus Biden
The ads are meant to condemn Biden’s foreign policy and accuse him that he doesn’t have his country’s best interests at heart .
We believe this is because the theme that emerged wasn’t as straightforward as we wanted.
Nevertheless, they still have a parallel intent with the rest of the ads we examined above.
Stand Against Radical Movements & Protect Religion
These ads demonstrate a sentiment of fear that incites standing against Antifa, which is tightly related to radical leftists.
As a parallel intent, another vertical that portrays President Trump protecting religious liberty from the left-wing mob assaulting it.
Trump’s Re-election Agenda
The ad “DO YOU SUPPORT PRESIDENT TRUMPS PLANS TO MAINTAIN AND EXPAND AMERICAS UNRIVALED MILITARY STRENGTH” is grouped with the 2nd term keywords because of its high overlapping intent with the ad “trump's 2nd term agenda stop endless wars and bring our troops home.”
Nevertheless, we still wish to unravel the underlying structure.
It’s apparent that all the subsequent cluster themes that emerge are questions related to:
- Donald Trump’s approval from the public
- Trust in media and whether or not they are polarized
- Socialism and its use
In order to understand the intent of these questions, we must examine them closely.
Do You Approve Of Trump?
Do You Trust The Media?
In particular, there are several questions that the campaign managers pose to the public.
As demonstrated in the image below, most of these ads are not meant to poll but rather insinuate malpractice by media outlets towards President Trump.
Do You Support Socialism?
The Trump administration is obviously a conservative party and this cluster of ads is meant to amplify the chasm between the left and right political ideology.
Don’t Forget To Vote!
These entities are loosely related, as the parent cluster confidence is 66%.
Many of these ads ads prompt their audience to request an absentee ballot and vote remotely, due to the current pandemic.
Take The Exit Poll
This theme is related to the elections’ outcome and is meant to gather information and statistics on the potential voters’ demographics.
Request Your Ballot
This theme is related to the elections’ outcome and is meant to gather information and statistics on the potential voters’ demographics.
Vote Absentee Like President Trump
In this grouping,there are promotional ads depicting the President using evocative languages, like “needs your vote,” “wants you to,” “vote like President Trump.”
Google has captured these nuances due to the users’ underlying behavior looking for answers to their queries.
It’s all about that Wall, ‘bout that Wall
This act is to prevent the entrance of illegal immigrants in the United States.
On the other hand, it contains an undertone of alienation and xenophobia, amplifying the tension between the two countries.
Keyword Cupid groups all the advertisements targeting people with similar ideologies into the thematic entity based on how Google perceives these queries.
More Advertisement Themes
These clusters can still provide valuable insight.
The only difference is that they have less supporting paid ads and aren’t strongly connected with other clusters.
This is why they are "silo-ed" by themselves.
We have a lot to talk about, so let’s not waste any time!
The Bidens Are Corrupt
Actually, All The Democracts Are Corrupt
This cluster is different than the previous one as it targets the whole democratic party rather than just the Bidens.
Silent Majority (Shhh)
To Impeach Or To Peach?
It also groups the resolution of this process, which found Trump not guilty.
Do You Like Freedom?
The interesting thing is that it is grouped with the ads protecting the 1st amendment of the United States, which talks about freedom of speech .
This means that Google has already made the association and now “understands” what the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution is about.
Nikki Haley Quotes
They are both quotes from the former ambassador of the UN, Nikki Haley.
Interestingly, Google groups them because of similar articles that have been written on each subject, although we deliberately didn't specify Nikki Haley's name in the string.
Nevertheless, since the underlying meaning and tonality are the same, that is enough to create a strong association.
Happy Bday Melania!
This makes aligning and following a brand more relatable.
There is no better way to feel connected with the administration than wishing happy birthday to the First Lady.
After all, one typically wishes happy birthday to people in their close social circle.
Wishing someone a happy birthday invites an individual into their comfort zone and yields them susceptible to their messaging.
Oh Mount Rushmore, What Did You Do Now?
The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation's birth, growth, development, and preservation, respectively .
Nevertheless, in 2020 it’s become the object of conflict between the Democratic and the Republican party.
Below are the ads related to Mount Rushmore that imply that the democrats consider it a symbol of white supremacy, thus rejecting an iconic American symbol.
It’s All Fake News!
They Should All Resign
Stand Against The Fake News
The language is more evocative and asks the viewer to take a stance and “weigh-in” on the topic of fake news.
Phrases such as “let president trump know what you think,” “let the fake news know what real Americans think,” “don’t let the fake news defeat president Trump,” reveal the sentiment behind the 2020 Trump campaign.
Join The Roster Lineup
This cluster includes Ivanka Trump because she was meant to be part of the lineup.
The primary intent behind these phrases is the GOP convention, not the underlying people who are meant to appear.
Do YOU Want To Deport Illegal Immigrants?
In particular, it attempts to prompt viewers who are passionate about the subject to click on the ad, sign the petition so the campaign can collect their information and target them with further funnels down the line.
Keyword Cupid also groups the accusation that Joe Biden has not passed an immigration reform for 47 years, which is a strong signal for those passionate about this issue.
Stop The Wars!
America has taken part in countless wars in the last decade, which has stolen countless lives from their families and loved ones.
War/conflict, although engraved in the human DNA, hardly ever has a clear winner, but rather countless losses.
This is a very emotion-packed message that appeals to the very core of the numerous people that want to see their loved ones return home safely.
Whether or not stopping these wars is feasible and actionable is still meant to be seen...
Is Twitter Biased?
Since President Trump is very active on Twitter, there have been cases where the current administration feels that there was censorship of his tweets and the messaging he is trying to pass.
However, we shouldn’t forget that Twitter is its own platform, has its own ToC and privacy policies, and is responsible for the messages shared there, especially if an account has 87M followers!
When In Doubt, Add A Puppy
Even if you are not voting Republican though, the little guy wearing the Trump collar is bound to win you over.
Joe & Kamala
Although all the ads are related to Joe Biden and his vice president, the models separated them even more.
The two further segmentations make sense because the first one has to do with the intent before Biden announced his vice president, whereas the second group together the ads after the fact.
Happy Birthday D.J.T.
The interesting thing is that Keyword Cupid was able to understand that the “happy birthday” wasn’t the important part of the sentence and it shouldn’t dictate the clusters.
On the contrary, the person we wish Happy Birthday to, is the most important part of the context of this text.
This cluster accurately grouped all the ads related to the official Trump store and the 25% sale advertisement.
Interestingly, Keyword Cupid didn’t misinterpret the 20% discount we saw in the previous cluster around Trump’s birthday sale, to the 25% sale of the campaign store.
Pay Attention To Wisconsin...
We couldn’t find ads for all 50 States but just for a few selected ones, which helps us think that there is something important to the administration’s ad campaign if they are targeting these States exclusively.
Wisconsin is one of the 6 “swing” States , so we can speculate that the administration has intel that it might be necessary for the 2020 elections.
North Carolina, sure.. but Georgia too?
This time most of the ads target North Carolina, which is another traditional “swing” State.
Nevertheless, Georgia is traditionally voting Republican since 1992 .
Targeting it might be because the Republican party sees negative movement and wants to reassure their dominance in that State’s electoral college.
North Carolina and Georgia are part of the same cluster because the "algorithm understood" that both sentences target voting intent in a particular State.
Still, there is not enough supporting content for Georgia to warrant a separate cluster.
Nevertheless, the Cluster Confidence of 66% alerts us for this discrepancy and the fact that there is a “loose” relationship between the cluster’s children.
Millions Of Jobs
There is a clear message around returning manufacturing jobs to the US that are currently outsourced to China.
The specific numbers are also a significant part of the ad’s copy as they create a particular target in the viewers’ minds.
No More Unemployment
If you look closely, these three advertisements target the benefits of Trump’s effective leadership to decrease unemployment.
Keywords like (“jobs added back,” “unemployment rate,” “1.4 million jobs added in August”) can help us understand the difference of the intent compared to the previous cluster.
A stone was also thrown at the Obama-Biden administration on the country’s unemployment rate under a democratic government.
Target Different Social Groups
For starters, Hispanic people are predominantly Christian and, more specifically, Roman Catholic .
Moreover, the underlying intent of targeting certain groups and ideologies with surveys meant to capture demographic information is similar in these two ads.
Beware Of The Radical Leftists
Additionally, these advertisements imply that Biden is a "puppet" of higher radical powers that control him behind the scenes.
They also claim democrats are threatening to take away the right of an American to bare arms.
Do Your Part
The advertisements in this cluster are heavily geared towards the November election and its outcome.
They address the reader directly and ask them to "help shape the winning strategy", "do their part", "become an advisor" and "re-elect" the president for another term.
In this study, we see that almost all the keywords that belong to the "Singles Cluster" are insults and attacks to Joe Biden.
Most of them are not tangible reasons based on policies or beliefs but mock Joe’s personal attributes, such as "Joe Biden is old and out of it", "Hidin Biden", "hidin biden", "I am Joe Biden and I forgot this message".
Now we have a general idea of the messaging and the strategy behind the current administration’s advertisement.
This article’s objective is NOT to blame the advent of technology/social media for all that is wrong in the world…
The goal is to understand the tactics being used to manipulate and sway us systematically and unbiased.
To become free thinkers in today’s society, we must be aware of the strategies employed to influence our thoughts and reasoning.
What better way to do this than to use the same machine learning models used to manipulate us in the first place?
With the right tools, research, and critical thinking...
YOU are the safe keeper of democracy!Till next time.
As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master - Abraham Lincoln