By Kinsie Rayburn

Affinity Mapping: Increasing Efficiencies in the Planning Process

February 22, 2021

Affinity mapping is a powerful tool to segment key audiences, as well as inform resource allocation. With the Farm Journal Trusted Intelligence Platform, we’re able to gain deep insights into different audience segment affinities, based on the content that audience members are consuming.  

At Trust In Food, we use Affinity Mapping for two main purposes:

  1. To highlight trends
    1. Highlighting trends helps gain deeper understanding of the target audience and can answer such questions as:
      1. Is your target audience already interested in what you are talking about? 
      2. What else do they care about?
      3. What will they find relevant? 
  2. To identify hotspots
    1. Once a hotspot (or coldspot for that matter) is identified, it can answer such questions as:
      1. What portion of your audience cares? 
      2. Where can you target your efforts to have the biggest impact? 
      3. Does your audience care more than they do in the next state over?

Identifying trends and hotspots allows for greater efficiency and strategy to be embedded in the program design phase.

Farm Journal data scientists created this carbon behaviors affinity map for a client recently. 

In this case, we looked at readers from across the nation who are engaging with content related to carbon. For organizations that are only interested in one region, say the northwest or southeast, or a certain set of states, we can narrow down the geography and audience size to only those who operate in the target geography. 

The programming behind this map uses a natural language algorithm to scour digital content for carbon and related topics. 

This map assesses interest in carbon on a county level – The darker the blue, the higher the affinity for carbon related content. The value of using a map like this comes in the form of increased efficiency of both time and funds spent, as well as improving the strategic design of a new or existing program.

Some examples:

  • For organizations working to enroll producers in a Carbon Payment Program, this map would identify areas likely to get high engagement levels to jump start program signups. 
    • The darker blue areas on the map are individuals that already consume a lot of information about carbon, and would not need as much focus on the basics of carbon as in a light blue area. 

This can help organizations decide how to adjust the allocation of funds to focus more on securing farmer signups as opposed to launching an education and awareness campaign.

  • For organizations seeking to identify where they can have the biggest impact for increasing awareness and education, this map could identify where carbon affinities are low and target that area to launch a campaign to advance awareness and knowledge levels.
    • In the lighter blue areas on the map are individuals who are not consuming much information about carbon. Focusing project dollars on increasing awareness and education in these areas would have a larger impact than a similar campaign launched in some of the darker blue areas.

It also serves as a justification of the need to improve awareness and education in areas where carbon is less of a hot topic.

Being able to identify where funds are best spent is a program budgeting dream come true- whether that is for building out an annual budget or justifying expenditures in a grant proposal. It also takes some of the assumptions, guess work, and anecdotal evidence out of the planning process and replaces those with data-driven insights.

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