TA13 "Target Audience Analysis"

Belongs to phase P01 Plan

Summary: Identifying and analyzing the target audience examines target audience member locations, political affiliations, financial situations, and other attributes that an influence operation may incorporate into its messaging strategy. During this tactic, influence operations may also identify existing similarities and differences between target audience members to unite like groups and divide opposing groups. Identifying and analyzing target audience members allows influence operations to tailor operation strategy and content to their analysis.

TA13 Tasks

TA13 Techniques
T0072 Segment Audiences Create audience segmentations by features of interest to the influence campaign, including political affiliation, geographic location, income, demographics, and psychographics.
T0072.001 Geographic Segmentation An influence operation may target populations in a specific geographic location, such as a region, state, or city. An influence operation may use geographic segmentation to Create Localized Content (see: Establish Legitimacy).
T0072.002 Demographic Segmentation An influence operation may target populations based on demographic segmentation, including age, gender, and income. Demographic segmentation may be useful for influence operations aiming to change state policies that affect a specific population sector. For example, an influence operation attempting to influence Medicare funding in the United States would likely target U.S. voters over 65 years of age.
T0072.003 Economic Segmentation An influence operation may target populations based on their income bracket, wealth, or other financial or economic division.
T0072.004 Psychographic Segmentation An influence operation may target populations based on psychographic segmentation, which uses audience values and decision-making processes. An operation may individually gather psychographic data with its own surveys or collection tools or externally purchase data from social media companies or online surveys, such as personality quizzes.
T0072.005 Political Segmentation An influence operation may target populations based on their political affiliations, especially when aiming to manipulate voting or change policy.
T0080 Map Target Audience Information Environment Mapping the target audience information environment analyzes the information space itself, including social media analytics, web traffic, and media surveys. Mapping the information environment may help the influence operation determine the most realistic and popular information channels to reach its target audience. Mapping the target audience information environment aids influence operations in determining the most vulnerable areas of the information space to target with messaging.
T0080.001 Monitor Social Media Analytics An influence operation may use social media analytics to determine which factors will increase the operation content’s exposure to its target audience on social media platforms, including views, interactions, and sentiment relating to topics and content types. The social media platform itself or a third-party tool may collect the metrics.
T0080.002 Evaluate Media Surveys An influence operation may evaluate its own or third-party media surveys to determine what type of content appeals to its target audience. Media surveys may provide insight into an audience’s political views, social class, general interests, or other indicators used to tailor operation messaging to its target audience.
T0080.003 Identify Trending Topics/Hashtags An influence operation may identify trending hashtags on social media platforms for later use in boosting operation content. A hashtag40 refers to a word or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#) on social media used to identify messages and posts relating to a specific topic. All public posts that use the same hashtag are aggregated onto a centralized page dedicated to the word or phrase and sorted either chronologically or by popularity.
T0080.004 Conduct Web Traffic Analysis An influence operation may conduct web traffic analysis to determine which search engines, keywords, websites, and advertisements gain the most traction with its target audience.
T0080.005 Assess Degree/Type of Media Access An influence operation may survey a target audience’s Internet availability and degree of media freedom to determine which target audience members will have access to operation content and on which platforms. An operation may face more difficulty targeting an information environment with heavy restrictions and media control than an environment with independent media, freedom of speech and of the press, and individual liberties.
T0081 Identify Social and Technical Vulnerabilities Identifying social and technical vulnerabilities determines weaknesses within the target audience information environment for later exploitation. Vulnerabilities include decisive political issues, weak cybersecurity infrastructure, search engine data voids, and other technical and non technical weaknesses in the target information environment. Identifying social and technical vulnerabilities facilitates the later exploitation of the identified weaknesses to advance operation objectives.
T0081.001 Find Echo Chambers Find or plan to create areas (social media groups, search term groups, hashtag groups etc) where individuals only engage with people they agree with.
T0081.002 Identify Data Voids A data void refers to a word or phrase that results in little, manipulative, or low-quality search engine data. Data voids are hard to detect and relatively harmless until exploited by an entity aiming to quickly proliferate false or misleading information during a phenomenon that causes a high number of individuals to query the term or phrase. In the Plan phase, an influence operation may identify data voids for later exploitation in the operation. A 2019 report by Michael Golebiewski identifies five types of data voids. (1) “Breaking news” data voids occur when a keyword gains popularity during a short period of time, allowing an influence operation to publish false content before legitimate news outlets have an opportunity to publish relevant information. (2) An influence operation may create a “strategic new terms” data void by creating their own terms and publishing information online before promoting their keyword to the target audience. (3) An influence operation may publish content on “outdated terms” that have decreased in popularity, capitalizing on most search engines’ preferences for recency. (4) “Fragmented concepts” data voids separate connections between similar ideas, isolating segment queries to distinct search engine results. (5) An influence operation may use “problematic queries” that previously resulted in disturbing or inappropriate content to promote messaging until mainstream media recontextualizes the term.
T0081.003 Identify Existing Prejudices An influence operation may exploit existing racial, religious, demographic, or social prejudices to further polarize its target audience from the rest of the public.
T0081.004 Identify Existing Fissures An influence operation may identify existing fissures to pit target populations against one another or facilitate a “divide-and-conquer" approach to tailor operation narratives along the divides.
T0081.005 Identify Existing Conspiracy Narratives/Suspicions An influence operation may assess preexisting conspiracy theories or suspicions in a population to identify existing narratives that support operational objectives.
T0081.006 Identify Wedge Issues A wedge issue is a divisive political issue, usually concerning a social phenomenon, that divides individuals along a defined line. An influence operation may exploit wedge issues by intentionally polarizing the public along the wedge issue line and encouraging opposition between factions.
T0081.007 Identify Target Audience Adversaries An influence operation may identify or create a real or imaginary adversary to center operation narratives against. A real adversary may include certain politicians or political parties while imaginary adversaries may include falsified “deep state”62 actors that, according to conspiracies, run the state behind public view.
T0081.008 Identify Media System Vulnerabilities An influence operation may exploit existing weaknesses in a target’s media system. These weaknesses may include existing biases among media agencies, vulnerability to false news agencies on social media, or existing distrust of traditional media sources. An existing distrust among the public in the media system’s credibility holds high potential for exploitation by an influence operation when establishing alternative news agencies to spread operation content.

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