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The Case for Valuing Qualitative Data

content strategy operations planning preference management Nov 06, 2023

What we've been trained as marketers to believe is that quantitative data always prevails over qualitative data -- that what people say they care about is different than what they demonstrate they care about through their behaviors.

The most resonant example of this always lies in seeing the difference in electoral polls versus voting outcomes.

From this belief in quantitative over qualitative, we've extrapolated that our focus should be on behavior. Because behavior = scale, and scale = gold.

But in shifting to this focus, we've moved away from letting people choose what's in their ether -- which we could do by presenting them with frequent options to indicate their preference and doing our due operational diligence to build content and marketing pipelines that trust those indicators.

Instead, we've repeatedly opted them into our campaigns based on their "behaviors." In the digital space, it's important to remember that we're often qualifying a click as behavior.

A click -- which can be accidental as many times as it is reliable.

This shifting focus has perpetuated the rise of algorithmic bubbles we can't get out of without deep knowledge of how to do so. It has obliterated the concept of the audience being able to choose what's good for them, because we're deciding it for them instead.

A shift toward preference management will be the inherent antithesis of scale. It will mean investing deeply in understanding your audience based on what they WANT you to understand about them.

This is a GOOD thing. So what should we value in this new line of thinking?

  • Start with building the infrastructure to provide those vehicles for letting people tell you what they want rather than fighting against the current.
  • That infrastructure looks like smart content strategy. Smart tagging. Smart contextual media placements. And letting AI guide *after* you know what your audience consents to.
  • That infrastructure doesn't look like continuing to bloat the market with impressions based on rising CPMs and getting more invasive with technology. Legislation and audience standards will stop you if you don't stop yourself.

This isn't all left to you to figure out on your own. Let's talk.


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