Struggling with grief? Too much debt? On the verge of divorce? Churches are ready to deliver a digital intervention, with help from Big Data.
A small company called Gloo has put itself at the forefront of an effort to analyze Americans’ personal data and online activities to help churches reach people most likely to be open to their messages and join their congregations.
The more surgical method of evangelization borrows techniques long used by businesses and political campaigns, which rely on data to target consumers. In this realm, however, the focus is on more personal data, and analysis is organized around trying to identify some of the most difficult moments of people’s lives.
Just as retailers or political candidates send out online ads to groups of people with particular characteristics—including demographics, browsing activity, purchasing behavior and other factors that advertising platforms allow clients to choose—churches can use Gloo to show ads to groups of people they believe are most receptive to becoming members, or they think they could help.
People facing a personal crisis are most likely to be open to outreach efforts, churches say—and Gloo crunches data to try to identify them. The company has said in marketing materials that it can predict the characteristics of people who might have a marriage in trouble, be suffering from depression or anxiety, or have a propensity for a drug addiction, based on data analysis. Gloo incorporates thousands of data points from third-party providers as well as data it collects itself through the churches it works with, according to the marketing documents. [Continue reading…]