Monthly Archives: April 2008

How long will quantitative assessment hold its lead in the marketing world?

As more and more people turn to online resources for everything from news to product reviews of all sorts, fresh marketing money pours into the realm of web-based publications. Although the absolute size of most budgets may not grow, but rather shrink (at least in the world’s benchmark market, the US), manufacturers of goods start to realize that the consumers aren’t necessarily where their ad money is. So they want to change the balance between online and offline spending. Problem is, how do they know where to go? In the society of the printing press, circulation numbers used to be the holy grail of marketing assessment. With magazines giving away more than half of their print run and two thirds of their paper paved with advertisement, the suspicion arose that quantitative data may not really have so much to say anymore.

In the online world, reader attention can theoretically be measured with great accuracy. Unique visits can be counted, and it is even possible to determine how long readers stayed on certain websites. Mighty tools such as and do induce a feeling of power. However, it can only be a good sign that even these services warn you not to blindly trust their data. Combining data sources with qualitative research is what’s called for. The mere time a website is open in a browser window doesn’t tell you very much about the communication going on. The number of hits on a website can only vaguely hint at its relevance for certain target groups.

With this post, I want to kick off a series talking about possibilities to create a methodology for the integration of qualitative and quantitative analysis that could help find ways for better assessments while raising awareness for the complexity of the matter.

Conference: The Methodologies of the System

September 4-6, 2008, at the University of Hohenheim. The main focus will be on the combination of empirical research methods and the evolution of sociological systems theory. From the Call for Papers:

“It has been researched about most social phenomena as well as they have been described from the perspective of systems theory – and yet those two areas of sociology, systems theory and empirical research remained mainly ignorant towards each other. General reproaches of theoretical or empirical blindness too often collide. This leaves important potentials unused. The theory-based development of empirical methods as well as the empirical richness of social theory – especially this of systems theory – and thus the contribution of sociology to current problems of society have to rely on the bridge of methodology. Therefore the conference aims at pushing forward the dialogue between systems theoretical conception and empirical observation by broadening and deepening it.”

So, the University of Hohenheim sounds like an interesting place to be in the first week of September. Find out more at the Study Group Functional Analysis.
Download the Call for Papers