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Mon Apr 1, 2019, 06:29 PM Apr 2019

UM Research Connects Big Data Marketing Tools, Land Conservation

UM Research Connects Big Data Marketing Tools, Land Conservation

March 28, 2019

MISSOULA – The same data used by digital marketers to sell products can also help inspire conservation behaviors, according to new research from the University of Montana.

In a recent study, “Microtargeting for Conservation,” published in Conservation Biology, UM faculty in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conversation demonstrate how conservation programs can benefit from tools and analyses generally reserved for businesses and political campaigns.

Researchers with UM, Penn State University, Chesapeake Conservancy and the Yuhas Consulting Group created models to study how microtargeting can identify landowners agreeable to installing riparian buffers on their land located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The watershed is home to 18 million people in six states and encompasses cities like Baltimore, Norfolk and Washington, D.C. It is the country’s largest estuary and provides vital habitat for more than 3,600 plant and animal species.

“These are the types of data that inform the ads you get on Facebook or Google,” said Alex Metcalf, assistant professor in UM’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation and the study’s lead author. “We’re taking that same technology and instead of trying to sell people stuff, we’re trying to find people most willing to invest in conservation.”

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