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With the 2015 U.K. general election gearing up to be one of the most hotly contested elections in a long time, Twitter has announced that it’s opening up geo-targeted advertising to much narrower geographic regions.
This will have potentially powerful ramifications for political parties, particularly in areas where the results are expected to be close. For example, a party can use resources to push a specific policy or agenda in an area it’s most relevant in — if one constituency is fighting to keep a hospital open, for instance, an election candidate could promise to make that a priority if elected.
Twitter has offered geo-targeted advertising for a while already, with brands able to target consumers in 30 countries. Moreover, within the U.S., Canada, France, Spain, and the U.K., it has been possible to target more granularly — by region, city, and zip code. So in the U.K., for example, advertisers could target by “London” or “Glasgow,” or “East Midlands”, “North West,” and “South East.”
Back in December, however, Twitter started testing postcode targeting, which lets advertisers hone-in on much narrower areas. Postcodes are kind of like the U.K. equivalent of ZIP codes in the U.S., except an individual postcode can sometimes be unique to just a few houses.
Though this will, of course, let any business target its wares down to specific neighborhoods, which could be useful for pizza shops, car mechanics, or electricians, the introduction of postcode targeting in the buildup to the general election on May 7 is notable.
However, it’s also worth noting that only 15 million people in the U.K. use Twitter; that’s less than a quarter of the population. So while the social network is clearly a great tool for politicians to target voters, good old-fashioned “door-knocking” will still have a crucial role to play.
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