A new model for communication


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A new model for communication

  1. 1. A Research Report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners March 2010 Studying the Deep Structure of Advertising and News Consumption The environment for news and advertising is in need of a clean-up. Using the tools of cultural anthropology, The AP and its research partners uncover a new path to audience engagement that taps into the phenomenon of social media and responds to consumers’ desire for more honest and collaborative communication. A New Model for Communication:
  2. 2. Contents Prologue 03 Behavioral Field Study and Findings Section 1: Overview and Study Objectives 06 Section 2: Ethnography Participants 15 Section 3: Conclusions and Recommendations 47 AP’s Engagement Model A Case Study 59 StopTheAdness.org A Case Study from Carton Donofrio Partners 66 Acknowledgments 72 © 2010 The Associated Press All rights reserved. May be downloaded for personal use only.
  3. 3. Prologue A New Model for Communication 3 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners In 2007, The Associated Press began what would become a continuing partnership with Context-Based Research Group of Baltimore. We started off with a simple goal of exploring some real-life examples of changing news consumption among young adults, and three years later, we have made what both organizations feel are some major break- throughs in understanding how information flows through the digital culture. Our first project resulted in a report entitled A New Model for News, released in 2008 following fieldwork in six cities around the world the previous year. That project led us to the creation of what we call an “atomic” model for news, which visualizes a core issue for news providers, whose content has been fragmented into headlines and snippets by the forces of search, aggregation and sharing on the Internet. Essentially, the model illustrates how the news has been ripped out of the package – people encounter it in bits and pieces in scrolling headlines, aggregated search results and shared text messages that wash over them in relentless torrents every day. While the technology of the Internet has given consumers more control over their own consumption, it has provided little guidance for how to put the atomic pieces of the news back together into a coherent report. The research conducted with Context has helped AP get on the road to some real solutions. One of the keys to understanding how to address the situation has been the extraordinary insight enabled by the Context methodology. Context does ethnographic research, meaning it studies small groups of people up close to get at the root of their behavior. That “Deep Structure,” as Context calls it, opens up a view of how companies can respond to cultural changes that aren’t so obvious on the surface. Facts Future stories/ Spin-offs Back story Updates TM
  4. 4. A New Model for Communication 4 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners For instance, going into our original news study, we assumed that people probably wanted more short blasts of news because that’s what all the Internet tools were built to deliver. But, to the contrary, the study group participants said they were actually fed up with that and wanted more breadth and depth. That was certainly music to the ears of journalists, who felt the days for in-depth reporting were numbered on the Internet. With the success of the news study, we moved on to an even bigger problem, one we had less experience dealing with as a news agency. We wanted to understand whether the same issues were affecting advertising, the lifeblood of the news business. To explore that new territory, we turned again to Context to perform another field study in the summer of 2009. The analysis of that data is the subject of the following report. The story, without giving it all away, is that consumers felt even more besieged by ads than by news. The level of fatigue among consumers was at least as bad as in the news study and, in many cases, had left people downright angry. The “atomic” model applied again. We could see how ads were being delivered and consumed haphazardly in blasts of unwelcome Web pop-ups, plastered subway walls and pre-roll video. But it wasn’t all about the format. The second study led us to a much more interesting place and a much more profound understanding of the problem. It is not just that people feel overloaded. As consumers, they long for a better way to communicate with informa-
  5. 5. A New Model for Communication 5 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners tion providers – news companies and advertisers alike. They want that communication to be two-way, transparent and honest. They seek a new relationship that is built on trust, not simply on the value of the content or advertising itself. Seeing the rise of social networking online during the course of this study, we weren’t surprised that people spoke so openly about their eagerness to share content with their friends or tap into online communities to vet commercial offers. Those comments contrast- ed sharply with their characterizations of ads as generally annoying and interruptive. It all led us to the conclusion that communication couldn’t improve unless the environ- ment changed first. Context brought an interesting bit of cultural theory called “Commu- nitas” to bear on the findings, which you can read more about in the following pages. With Communitas, there is no such thing as one-way communication. There are only two-way conversations that inspire loyalty and trust, and those are key ingredients with the power to cut through the clutter of the Internet. We hope these findings inspire discussion, debate and a variety of creative responses in both the news and advertising realms. It’s time for both industries to transition from “bombardment” back to “communication.” As you’ll see in this report, a sister advertising company to Context, Baltimore’s Carton Donofrio Partners, has already taken our conclusions to heart and launched its own initiative called, appropriately, “Stop the Adness.” Special thanks to them for the insight they provided to this project and, as always, to our partners in this research, the Context-Based Research Group. Jim Kennedy Vice President and Director of Strategic Planning The Associated Press March 2010
  6. 6. A New Model for Communication 6 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners A New Model for Communication Getting to the Roots of the News and Advertising ‘Fatigue’ Factor In 2008, The Associ- ated Press and Context- Based Research Group developed a view of how news consumption was being dramatically al- tered in the digital age. The news agency and its ethnographic research partner issued a report, entitled A New Model for News (http://www.ap.org/ newmodel.pdf), which detailed the changes in behavior that Context observed from a group of young adults in six cities around the world. That report was distin- guished by its anthropo- logical approach to the question. A New Model for News sought to document the impact of the digital shift in news consump- tion from a behavioral perspective. The study started from the premise that much of the audience had moved online, and it sought to understand what was happening to the news and news consump- tion as a result. The report was deliv- ered to the World Editors Forum and shared with journalists and media companies worldwide. As a stand-alone study, it served to validate the widely held assumption that the legacy distribu- tion models for news had been rendered almost obsolete by the way news was being delivered and consumed in digital chan- nels. The “packages” that historically defined the news – the front page, the scheduled TV broadcast and even the bookmarked Web site – were giving way to a chaotic torrent of “atomized” snippets and headlines that were de- signed to take advantage of the 24/7 nature of the digital space, but were having an unintended ef- fect on the audience. The subjects observed in that initial study told Context that they were Section 1: Overview and Study Objectives
  7. 7. A New Model for Communication 7 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners As strategies for en- riching the news report were being pursued at AP, questions lingered about the business model for supporting digital news delivery. Specifi- cally, since news providers were relying on online and mobile advertising as primary revenue streams, AP wanted to understand whether advertising is subject to the same con- sumption issues as news. Core Issue: When Is a Good Time to Talk? The AP decided to en- gage Context once again, this time to study ad- vertising consumption patterns. The results of that investigation are the subject of this report. As a first step early in the New Model report. In summary, the agency moved to an approach that distinguished headlines, snippets and deeper cover- age in a new framework for its journalists called, simply, “1-2-3.” That framework set the stage for AP to deliver the news in a variety of new ways that were better tuned to consumption patterns. Newspaper-length stories that had been repurposed online were replaced by a new digital routine of headline first, followed by present-tense devel- opments, followed when needed by longer treat- ments. A digital tagging system of metadata also was created to enable the related components of any story to be electronically linked. tired of the repetitive onslaught and they were eager to find something more fulfilling. The news they found online was broken up and difficult to reassemble in meaningful and satisfying ways. They said they were getting too many facts and updates and not enough back- ground or future perspective. Though it constituted an indictment of the news delivery schemes widely used around the world, the report delivered a re- freshing message to news providers: The audience was hungry for something deeper, wider and better. Those conclusions led to substantial changes in the way The Associated Press approached its own news report, as documented in
  8. 8. A New Model for Communication 8 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners work experience, in sharp contrast to the “fatigue” of news and advertising consumption. That clear conflict – be- tween increasingly dis- satisfying content con- sumption and increasingly satisfying social engage- ment – led AP and Context to suspect that standard forms of delivering news and advertising were out of sync with current cultural expectations. Not only did consumers not want to be interrupted by news and ads; they clearly preferred to engage in a totally different way. That suspicion framed the central question for a second ethnography around advertising con- sumption: If current practices were working social networking, and the tremendous growth of that phenomenon was setting the stage for elec- tronic word of mouth and personal relationships to influence the full spec- trum of communication, well beyond the informal exchanges of friends and family. The new social mindset taking hold in the culture provided a fresh context for studying the informa- tion overload problem. Context theorized that to get the consumer’s at- tention amid the chaos, information providers and advertisers needed to consider, and perhaps even ask the audience, whether now was a “good time to talk.” Clearing the “time to talk” seemed an inte- gral part of the social net- 2009, Context and AP set out to understand the ex- isting body of knowledge about the effectiveness of digital advertising. Of particular interest was advertising that accompa- nied news content. That secondary research confirmed the assump- tion that advertising was indeed suffering from the same audience “fatigue” as news. In fact, the situa- tion, if anything, appeared worse. Reports from a variety of sources gener- ally all agreed that adver- tising had become more interruptive, and less engaging, in the digital age. But something else was also going on. The digi- tal culture was making a massive turn toward
  9. 9. A New Model for Communication 9 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners anthropological analysis of the behavior observed. In the AP’s first study, A New Model for News, Context’s anthropologists were able to translate observed behavior into a model for how to improve the structure of the AP news report. The findings from that study (suggest- ing subjects were being bombarded by repetitive news reports) produced a stunning visual model of news broken down into its component “atoms” of facts, updates, background and future spin-off angles. With that model in clear view, AP made system- wide adjustments in its news production process to target the right format to the right situation. Similarly, the advertis- ing project was aimed at Why Ethnography: Getting to the Deep Structure Ethnography was chosen again as the research tool because of its grounding in cultural anthropology. Anthropologists under- stand that to uncover the deeper structures that guide a culture it is neces- sary to “live among the natives.” By living among the natives, you come to learn 1) what people do, versus what they say they do, and 2) the why, or underlying motivation, behind people’s actual be- havior. Ethnographic field- work involves going into people’s natural settings, versus studying people in a controlled environment. The secret to the suc- cess of an ethnographic research project lies in against deep engagement, what would it take to change the picture? In an environment dominated by repetitive headlines and interruptive advertis- ing, there is no “good time to talk” with consumers. So what would have to change for information providers and advertis- ers to strike up a two-way conversation with their audience? To find some answers, AP and Context launched new ethnographic field- work to learn more about how people react to adver- tising and how the inter- ruption of commercial messaging might be trans- formed into deeper audi- ence engagement.
  10. 10. A New Model for Communication 10 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners graphic research start to take shape and suggest a certain structure, social theory then guides the explanatory models. patterns are the manifes- tation of the Deep Struc- ture at the root of the question. The ethnographic ap- proach and anthropologi- cal process is deductive and iterative. As the patterns from the ethno- getting to the root of the problem, or what Context calls the Deep Structure – the place beneath the surface of easily observed behaviors where cultural values and individual motivations are produced and supported. Uncovering those roots can lead to the development of new solu- tions that reach people on a truly deeper plane of unmet needs. Material culture in an ethnographic study is the “stuff” people use. In con- sumer anthropology, most of the stuff equals product and services at people’s disposal. As the anthropologists observe more and more behavior and examples of material culture, patterns begin to emerge. Those Material Culture What products and services do people use? Behaviors What do people do? Deep Structure Why do people do what they do? Above the surface, anthropologists observe people’s behavior. Below the surface, insights are drawn on underlying motivations. Roots of ethnography Anthropologists compare people’s behavior to parts of a tree – some are obvious, some are hidden.
  11. 11. A New Model for Communication 11 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Observation Tools and Techniques “What is Advertising” Send-Ahead Behavioral Journaling Exercise To gather a foundation of information about the participants’ lives, par- ticularly their behavior, values, news sources and advertising consumption habits, all the partici- pants in the study received a Send-Ahead Behavioral Journaling Exercise en- titled, “What is Adver- tising?” To complete the journal, participants used their digital cameras and followed a set of instruc- tions for taking pictures of their daily lives over the course of approximately one week. Participants completed the journal by address- participant had to have access to the Internet and had to report interacting with advertising and ac- cessing news through both traditional and non-tradi- tional means. In addition, participants had to report checking the news at least once a day. The participants were selected from a mix of ur- ban and suburban neigh- borhoods in four cities in the United States: Atlan- ta, Kansas City, New York and San Francisco. The locations were chosen to provide a broad geographi- cal sweep and to capture a full range of traditional and non-traditional adver- tising and news consump- tion. Methodology To get at the Deep Struc- ture behind advertising attitudes and behaviors, specifically alongside news consumption, this project was designed to explore a diverse group of participants, using a range of methodologies including self-reported real-time behavior, direct observation and, to com- plete the process, in-depth anthropological analysis. Sample and Location To gather as broad a group of participants as possible, 24 participants were recruited from ages 18 to 55 (with an empha- sis on the 18 to 34 age group), representing a mix of ethnicity, gender and household income. Each
  12. 12. A New Model for Communication 12 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Advertising Consumption Diary To capture activity both in and out of the home, Context had participants complete an advertising consumption diary. For this structured assign- ment, participants were asked to capture moments, in real time, when they searched for or consumed advertising over two full days – one weekday and one weekend day, from start to finish. Context anthropologists directed all participants to document at least eight moments of advertising consumption on each day. Participants recorded the what, where and when of each consumption event, along with other details. Participants also were preferred situation and means for accessing adver- tising and what purpose advertising serves for them. As part of the advertis- ing analysis, participants were asked to single out and comment on two pieces of advertising that they experienced during the week, one engaging and one interruptive. Finally, participants were asked to explain how they interpreted the relation- ship between advertising and news, if they saw a relationship at all. The exercise, which was followed by a home visit from a Context anthro- pologist, yielded rich data about the participants and the role of advertising in their worlds. ing a series of questions in text and visual forms. The journal began by ask- ing them how they would represent themselves and their family, focusing on what was important to them, their likes/dislikes, values and philosophies and favorite things to do. They also were asked about their social net- works and what kinds of information and advertis- ing they chose to share or not share with their net- works. Moving more directly into the advertising realm, participants were asked to represent what they considered to be advertising, how they defined advertising, when they noticed advertising, including the influence of media platforms, their
  13. 13. A New Model for Communication 13 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners tainment activities, inter- actions with family and/or friends and more. Spending much of a day with the participants meant the anthropologists could obtain very detailed and accurate informa- tion, including observable details (how much time was spent on a Web site, what was noticed on the commute to work), as well as hidden details (how interaction with differ- ent advertising affected consumption behavior). A major strength of the full- day observations was that researchers uncovered dis- crepancies between what participants said they do and what they actually did. In-Home, In-Depth Interview In addition to the obser- sions were conducted to obtain first-hand infor- mation about advertis- ing consumption as it actually happened and to put into perspective the information gathered in the participants’ self- reported journals and diaries. In these sessions, anthropologists spent part of a day shadowing and observing participants through their activities. Context anthropologists scheduled the observa- tion periods during times that participants said they viewed advertising most frequently. To gain a deeper understanding of participants’ lives and how they interfaced with advertising and news, the immersion encompassed a broad sampling of daily activities, including work, school, leisure or enter- asked to answer the ques- tion derived from the secondary research: “Is now a good time to talk?” The question was framed as if the advertisement were a person trying to have a conversation with the consumer. Would this be the appropriate time for you to talk? Would you be free and interested in engaging at this moment, or are you already engaged with something else? Par- ticipants also elaborated on why it was or was not a good time to talk. The Context anthropolo- gists discussed this exer- cise with the participants during the in-home, in- depth interviews. Day-in-the-Life Immersion and Observation Day-in-the-life immer-
  14. 14. A New Model for Communication 14 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners behavior and their journal and diary entries. Brief summaries follow of the information gath- ered from all participants in the study. The names used are pseudonyms. self-directed descriptions of life experiences. The interviews also gave the participants a chance to explain in greater depth the behavior ob- served by the anthropolo- gists during the immer- sion periods and to discuss the relationship between the participants’ observed vations, the anthropologists conducted in-depth inter- views with the participants in their homes. Reviewing the participants’ journals and diaries provided a launching pad for conversa- tional interviews designed to uncover further details. The interviews featured open-ended questions de- signed to elicit vivid and
  15. 15. A New Model for Communication 15 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners ly remembers video ads on TV and graphic-rich pop- ups on Web sites. Clark does not read traditional sources of news but consumes news and information online. He enjoys sharing infor- mation with his friends, especially his fraternity brothers. Clark explains, “I like to be the first per- son to know about stuff so people are surprised … it’s cool to know about news first, breaking news, you know, a high-speed chase or $2 pitchers at La Pa- rilla tonight.” Clark and his friends love the Atlanta institu- tion, Chick-fil-A, for its ones that you remember … I couldn’t remember the ones that I was neutral about but I remembered the ones I really, really hated.” Clark describes effective advertising as “captur[ing] your attention in a posi- tive or negative sense,” and says it “further engag- es you in a specific product or event.” Advertising succeeds with Clark when it generates excitement about a specific product, even if it isn’t pertinent to him. For example, Clark loved a recent AirTran ad that he described as “hilarious” even though he doesn’t need to buy any plane tickets. Clark most- Clark is a student of architecture at Georgia Tech Uni- versity in Atlanta. Dur- ing the school year, Clark lives in his fraternity house with 50 of his broth- ers. During the summer, he lives at home with his parents. Being Christian is an important part of his life. Clark believes there are three different categories of advertising: “ads you like that engage you, ads you dislike that still en- gage you and ads you don’t pay attention to. The first two, the ones that you like and you don’t like, are the Atlanta Clark, 21 Architecture Student Section 2: Ethnography Participants
  16. 16. A New Model for Communication 16 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners ers stay connected. Her friends call her “Miss Information.” Because she wants to remain “in the know,” Donna always pays close attention to advertis- ing. She likes to bargain shop and stays up to date on sales or promotional events. She shares this information with those in her social network. Con- stant communication with her social network helps her feel connected and “fills her up.” On weekends Donna goes through all the print advertising she receives throughout the week and divides it into three piles: To Be Recycled, For Steve, and Dayplanner. All are relevant at a specific time for a specific person. Donna defines advertis- on an acre of land with their prized Pomeranian. Donna studied account- ing at Georgia State Uni- versity and started an air quality business with Steve based out of their at- tic. In addition to working together, Steve and Donna spend almost all of their free time together, and they frequently socialize with members of Steve’s family. Staying connected to her family, friends and the world around her are important to Donna. As vice president of her company, Donna strives to stay organized and well informed. She structures both her personal and professional advertising consumption around these principles. Donna likes to think that her store of knowledge helps oth- food as well as the com- pany’s strong Christian values. A few months before the interview, a friend told Clark about a promotion where the first 100 people into the store would win 52 free meals over the course of a year. He and this friend camped outside a Chick-fil-A for more than 50 hours, along with many others. Clark and his friend won the meals. He had a positive experience waiting with people similar to him while enjoying free food and music in the parking lot. Donna has been mar- ried to Steve for 20 years. The couple live in a beautiful home Atlanta Donna, 44 Business Owner
  17. 17. A New Model for Communication 17 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners vertising an expected and inescapable part of news consumption. Jane and her husband have two sons, 6 and 14. Her husband sells lighting for commercial buildings and performs in comedy, magic shows and cabaret acts on the side. Jane has never done any work that directly relates to her degree in speech communication, but con- siders her knowledge “diversified.” She current- ly works as a substitute teacher, mainly in elemen- tary schools. Family is the most important element in her life. Jane also val- ues honesty and safety. With the personality of Donna receives adver- tising through multiple entry points and devices. She is attracted mainly to print and direct e-mail advertising. Online, she is rarely tempted to open pop-up ads and ignores most advertising. Donna is compulsive about her consumption of the news. She watches the TV news in the mornings and evenings, listens to talk shows on the radio when in her car, receives The Atlanta Journal-Con- stitution daily and reads the news online, includ- ing entertainment news. Donna does not believe that reading or watching negative news impacts her opinion about the accom- panying advertising. She has become “numb to bad news” and considers ad- ing as the way companies create awareness about particular products, for- mulate an association with the products, and stimulate people to act by purchasing them. She recognizes positive and negative sides to advertis- ing. On the positive side, advertising allows her to create connections and stay informed, but it can be interruptive (such as spam e-mails or phone so- licitations) and dishonest. Donna has developed what she calls the “net- work of mys,” meaning her favorite places, products and service providers. She refuses to go outside of her “network” unless she receives word-of-mouth recommendations from at least two trusted sources. Atlanta Jane, 50 Substitute Teacher
  18. 18. A New Model for Communication 18 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners likely to notice advertis- ing when she is alone. Jane uses advertising to stay informed, to make smart purchasing deci- sions and to sate her curi- osity. Jane has definite ideas about which kinds of ad- vertising are appropriate and when, especially with regard to news consump- tion. She does not approve of the use of humorous advertising in conjunction with serious content. Jane doesn’t consume news at specific times on a regular basis regardless of the format. important subjects. She is particularly attuned to advertising that provides information relevant to her community. She prefers advertising that is visually engag- ing and finds advertis- ing interruptive when it “yells at her” and when it is played at inappropriate times. Jane is surprised at how open advertising has become to “sexual/sensual innuendo” and is often shocked at some of the products being discussed. Jane is most engaged with advertising when she can focus on what she is watching, listening to or reading without in- terruption. Her level of concentration is related to the presence or absence of her children – she is most a planner, Jane is often responsible for deciding on activities for her family and friends and is always cognizant of advertising. She considers herself to be “in the know” and prides herself on the relevance of her information. Tips Jane exchanges with family, friends and acquaintances may include advertising. Jane describes advertis- ing as a “pitcher throw- ing information at you, right in your face.” It is a company’s attempt to influence consumers by broadcasting its message. Jane stays attuned to the advertising around her because she is interested in how businesses market themselves to the con- sumer. She appreciates advertising that provides clear information about
  19. 19. A New Model for Communication 19 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners priate times on television. Laura looks to advertis- ing for information and entertainment and to sat- isfy her curiosity. Those needs are fulfilled by ad- vertisements about prod- ucts and services in which she is interested. Laura may be curious about cer- tain ads that don’t seem relevant to her, but she rarely acts on them. Laura watches the news on TV before leaving for work and before bed and reads the news online. She checks breaking news and traffic stories throughout the day by following the headlines on her home page. Laura ignores most Internet advertising but will click and follow public aware of differ- ent kinds of information. She believes she wouldn’t know “half of what I do” about new products or ser- vices without advertising. She generally thinks ad- vertising makes a positive contribution to society, but dislikes aspects, such as the misleading quality of the “fine print.” Laura is engaged by ad- vertising that directly re- lates to her life, especially sales and promotions. The best time to talk for Laura is when she is relaxed and can focus on the product or service being advertised. She describes interrup- tive advertising as a “gim- mick” or something that is not applicable to everyone. Examples include pop-ups and ads aired at inappro- Laura lives with her husband and two daugh- ters, 6 and 6 months, in a middle-class neighborhood in a southern suburb of Atlanta. She is currently working as a mortgage loan processor, a job that she dislikes. She received a degree as a medical as- sistant but started work- ing as a receptionist at a mortgage company and moved up to become a loan processor. She hopes to open her own event-plan- ning business some day. Her large, extended family likes to share informa- tion and shop with one another. Advertising for Laura is a way of making the Atlanta Laura, 28 Mortgage Loan Processor
  20. 20. A New Model for Communication 20 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners so that the consumer is bombarded by the brand message. Richard likes advertis- ing with humor, advertis- ing that keeps him aware of new products and ad- vertising that he relates to personally. Richard describes engaging adver- tising as “proactive,” such as a Chick-fil-A billboard on the highway downtown. Engaging advertising of- fers “calls to action.” He dislikes advertising that is forced upon him, like pop-ups online and free offers with a catch. Interruptive advertis- ing bothers him when he is doing research on the computer or trying to view a particular video clip. Advertising that he finds intentionally interrup- work because he is always the first to find and share information. He loves sharing news stories, espe- cially those dealing with the entertainment indus- try, as well as funny video clips and sales or promo- tions. He spends much of his time researching and developing business plans for his company. He looks across media for interest- ing stories and creative ideas. Richard entitled his ethnography journal, “Giving Yourself a Good Name,” because for him, advertising is brand mar- keting. It is the way that a company or product makes itself known to the public. Richard believes that to be successful, companies need to advertise using all different types of media advertising links if she is online at home. Richard is the presi- dent and co-founder of an enter- tainment group. His typical work days run late into the evening, making it diffi- cult for him to spend time with his 34-year-old wife and her 14-year-old son. Richard appreciates his job for its opportunities to travel, as well as his rela- tionships with artists, but he is dissatisfied with his work-life balance. Above all, Richard is very proud of his entrepreneurial ac- complishments. Richard believes he is a leader in his social net- Atlanta Richard, 29 Company President and Co-Founder
  21. 21. A New Model for Communication 21 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Eric, a marriage and family counselor, helps vio- lent offend- ers “get back into society.” He is married with three daughters who are 8, 6 and 8 months. Religion is central to his life and he plays an active role in his church. Eric is exposed to adver- tising through television, radio and Internet. His engagement with these sources is compartmen- talized: He is exposed to Internet advertising at work; he listens to the radio in the car; and he watches television in the evenings at home. Eric is most likely to be drawn into advertisements while watching television but spends a good deal of time checking breaking news headlines. He particularly likes world news, economic updates and local news. Richard follows links to videos when surfing online, especially for news video. However, he doesn’t click on the advertising ban- ners on news sites or fol- low the sponsored links on Google during searches. Richard believes that the kind of news he reads does impact the types of advertising he notices and that news itself can be in- terruptive when it creates panic or anxiety. tive makes him less likely to respond. Advertising on the Internet is more interruptive for Richard than on the radio, TV or in print. Richard is more at- tracted to advertising that relates to his line of work while he is at work. On the weekends, he is more likely to respond to adver- tising that relates to his family and their needs. The best time to talk for Richard is during his down time; the worst time when he is working. Richard’s career re- quires him to stay up to date on entertainment industry news. He sub- scribes to entertainment magazines, uses several devices to be “in the know,” buys the newspaper and Kansas City Eric, 28 Marriage and Family Life Counselor
  22. 22. A New Model for Communication 22 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners and his stepsons, 21 and 23. Sports bring the fam- ily together as the kids play, watch events avidly and regularly attend pro sports games. Brent even works the concessions at Royals stadium to get good sight lines to the field. As a barber, Brent is aware that aesthetics can shape a person’s opinions. “I can shape a person’s attitude by changing the way they look.” He sees this shaping ability in advertising: “Advertising shapes the way I consume and how I incorporate products into my life and spending.” The most engaging ads for Brent are humorous and relate to his interests. He finds some ads annoy- ing but he feels he can of the experience of enjoy- ing his favorite shows but finds them interruptive when he views the daily morning news. Eric is most drawn to visual storytelling in advertising, both on tele- vision and print. However, he is annoyed by ads that pop up, that are densely packed with information, or that are unrelated to his purchasing needs. He is displeased that these types of ads usually force him to take an action to get rid of them. Brent is a soft-spoken barbershop owner. He spends much of his free time with his wife, their 14-year-old son, otherwise finds ads inter- ruptive. Eric’s news consumption follows a similar pattern. He reads the newspaper online and listens to news updates on the radio. At these times, he is not interested in being ex- posed to ads. Advertising that comes on while he is watching the televised news in the morning or evenings is somewhat more welcome, but less so than when he is relaxing in front of the television at night. He prefers hear- ing about “good” news. Eric accepts the need for companies to adver- tise their products and services. He appreciates advertising that enter- tains him. He considers television ads to be a part Kansas City Brent, 35 Barbershop Owner
  23. 23. A New Model for Communication 23 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Jennifer claims she is not afraid of working hard but also expects to be able to buy the things she is ac- customed to having. Jennifer’s active life does not expose her to much advertising. Jen- nifer is most likely to be open to advertising when she is at home relaxing in front of the television. She listens to the radio to hear her favorite music, preferably uninterrupted, and her behavior on the computer is goal-oriented. She finds billboard adver- tising to be desperate, like a “cheesy salesman,” and comparatively not effec- tive. Overall, advertising is a convenience for Jennifer. It informs her of new prod- ucts and often entertains smartphone was strategic. Because of his job, he has little time to keep up with the news during the day. He relies on his phone to keep him up to date and thus finds advertising on his phone especially inter- ruptive. Jennifer is a market- ing and psychology student at Central Missouri State University. In general, Jennifer views advertis- ing in a positive light. “Advertising doesn’t hurt you; it’s there for you to respond to or not.” Jennifer recently moved back into her mother’s home. Her decision was financially motivated. ignore them. At work, he tries to minimize poten- tially offensive adver- tising by subscribing to satellite television. If Brent were to get all his ads sent to one device, he would choose his tele- vision because he expects them to be there. In con- trast, he dislikes ads when he surfs the Internet (especially on his smart- phone). They interrupt what he is trying to ac- complish. Moreover, Brent distrusts advertisements on the Internet because they entice him to make an immediate purchase rather than give him time to think. Brent also ques- tions the veracity of ads online more than on other platforms. Brent’s purchase of his Kansas City Jennifer, 20 College Student
  24. 24. A New Model for Communication 24 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners second home in Colorado. Roberta says that her fam- ily lives comfortably, but she is quick to stress that they spend within their means. Roberta has a very broad understanding of advertising. As a stand against advertising that she finds morally distaste- ful, she will not let her son wear t-shirts with cer- tain brand names embla- zoned across the front. The most engaging advertising for her innovatively inte- grates text and graphics, while the least appealing advertising screams “free.” For Roberta, pop-up ads and telemarketing are the most annoying forms of advertising. “It’s not what I paid for, it’s tacky. Don’t leave your advertising and her eldest daughter, who is 25, lives nearby with her fiancé in an apartment owned by Ro- berta and her husband. Roberta describes her 5,000-square-foot house as a “people-moving house.” It is important to Roberta and her husband that their children and their children’s friends see and use the house as a hub for their various activities and get-togethers. She enjoys entertaining chil- dren in their home in part because its alcohol- and drug-free environment is safer for them and reas- suring to other parents. The large house sup- ports the love of antiques Roberta shares with her husband. The family also enjoys skiing and owns a her. Jennifer believes you can turn away from adver- tising if you don’t want to be interrupted by it. Jennifer believes that she follows the news more than her friends and family do. She watches the local six o’clock news almost daily. She is most concerned about news that affects her directly or is close to her family. Jenni- fer has become trusting of the stories she hears and usually views the accom- panying advertising in a positive light. Roberta lives with her hus- band and 17-year-old daughter. Her son, 21, is at college, Kansas City Roberta, 49 Substitute Teacher
  25. 25. A New Model for Communication 25 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners to comedy clubs. Vama enjoys watching television and has recently started watching her favorite television shows on the In- ternet. She loves to travel, and usually takes six trips a year. To Vama, advertise- ments are meant to inform and persuade consumers. She believes ads should match the program that is being shown and feels that advertising is disruptive when “it’s too obvious that they want to encourage you to buy their product.” Vama is most drawn in by ads that entertain her. Television ads in particu- lar appeal to her desire for visually engaging graphics and limited text. On the Internet, she has grown accustomed to the and services for herself and her family. She is not an avid television watcher, and she uses the com- puter mainly to check the weather and keep track of her church’s missions overseas. Roberta antici- pates that her interaction with advertising will shift further online following her recent purchase of a smartphone. Vama is a lia- bility claims adjustor at a motorcycle insurance company. She hopes to move up to a management position so that she can retire at age 50. Vama’s interests include playing video games, lis- tening to music and going on my stuff. That makes me say I’m not going to purchase your product.” Her most recent experi- ence with pop-up ads was in print. She received her daily Kansas City Star with a sticker ad for a local clothing company obscuring part of the front page. She was furious and felt that her morning ritu- al of reading the paper, which she had paid for, had been severely inter- rupted. She vowed to never shop at the store sponsor- ing the advertising. Roberta doesn’t seek to be entertained by adver- tisements, but she expects ads to be well designed and attractive to the eye. Her primary access to advertising is through the newspaper, and she uses ads to research products Kansas City Vama, 30 Claims Adjuster
  26. 26. A New Model for Communication 26 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Belinda is a married mother of a 17-year- old boy and 13-year-old girl. A third teenager, a family friend, lives in Belinda’s home and has become an integral part of the fam- ily. Belinda cares about her family and puts her family first. She wants her kids to be honest and re- spect other people. “I am a person who always tries to do my best. My motto is to have fun and laugh a lot.” She and her family rare- ly watch live TV. Instead, they rent Netflix movies and watch shows saved to a digital video recorder. Be- linda has lived in Manhat- tan for over nine years and loves it. Since she has been in the same neighborhood out their stories. In this setting, she is clear on the need for news and ad- vertising to complement each other. She also likes to follow the news online and feels that the Internet gives her greater freedom to move within a story and dig for context. She appreciates hyperlinks embedded in news stories that provide more back- ground; “[the hyperlinks] let you go back to the beginning. On the Inter- net you can archive it like that, whereas with TV, if it’s not current, you’re not going to see it.” positioning of ads and as a result doesn’t find them completely disruptive. She has recently been using her Apple iTouch more, which limits the amount of advertising she has to ignore while perusing the Web. Although she really enjoys television, Vama is not hooked on video in all contexts. She particularly dislikes online video ads, which she believes are not worth her time. She does appreciate that watching them is a small compro- mise in exchange for free online programming. To catch up on news, Vama likes to watch the 10 o’clock televised news because she thinks the reporters have had more time to update and round New York City Belinda, 49 Freelance Consultant
  27. 27. A New Model for Communication 27 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners advertising isn’t terribly interruptive, but Belinda considers it brainwashing. She hates online ads that pop up or move across the screen, and feels invaded because she has no control over what she sees. She calls it “eye pollution.” Belinda checks the news all throughout the day, in between periods of work. She mostly reads The New York Times online, but also watches the news on CNN and CNBC. She often has one of these networks on during the day in the background while she works from home on the computer. She also has a morning ritual of drink- ing coffee and watching the Today show with her son. During this time, they might see a commercial on TV and comment on it, much” advertising, and spends much of her time trying to ignore it. Belinda categorizes advertising into two straightforward catego- ries: either good or bad. Good advertising is visu- ally appealing and beauti- ful, not “in my face,” and gives her something in return for her attention. Bad advertising includes pop-up ads on the comput- er, flyers on the street and boring ads. Belinda doesn’t feel she “needs” advertising. She believes that she gets nothing out of advertis- ing except, occasionally, entertainment. She likes intelligent ads that are not too blatant, and she is also more engaged with ads that change. Banner for so long, she has built a large social network of friends, colleagues and fellow parents. Belinda leverages her community to share and receive infor- mation, most often about shopping, travel, restau- rants or good deals, as well as items of interest, including articles, videos and Web sites. Belinda sees ads all over the place in her life. In her opinion, their purpose is either to alert her to new products or to remind her of existing products. Belinda seems to react negatively to advertising in all contexts. Subway ads and radio ads are slightly less annoying because she is usually a captive audi- ence in these scenarios. However, she strongly feels that there is “too
  28. 28. A New Model for Communication 28 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners walking and/or on pub- lic transportation offer her pleasant thoughtful moments, and funny com- mercials on TV make her laugh. Donia likes clever ads but wants ads to be clear about the products being pitched. She is espe- cially attracted to ads that use the product or brand as the punch line. Online, Donia finds ads too interruptive if they keep her from what she’s trying to get done. She cites pop-ups and video in that regard. She also finds targeted advertis- ing “creepy” and “like Big Brother.” She dislikes when companies try to communicate too much, or overdo product place- ments. Donia reads newspapers get a job. Currently, she works in an accounting de- partment of a real estate company, which she finds interesting but not thrill- ing. Donia cites family and friends as most important in her life. Donia regularly ex- changes articles, videos, information and even advertisements with her friends online. She only shares things if they are digital, through her Face- book wall, over Google chat or e-mail. Donia thinks about advertising as the inter- section between entertain- ment for consumers and communication from com- panies. As such, the only need advertising fills for Donia is entertainment. Clever ads while she’s but typically they are not paying close attention. On- line, besides The New York Times, Belinda sometimes clicks on AOL news head- lines from her homepage. She also reads articles e- mailed to her from friends from various newspaper Web sites. Belinda says that ads in the news have “no effect” on her, since she typically doesn’t even notice them. Donia is a single woman who lives with a family friend from Ridgewood, N.J. Donia went to college at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., then moved to New York City to be nearer to family and New York City Donia, 25 Accounting Department Clerk
  29. 29. A New Model for Communication 29 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Ethan is most likely to engage with ads when he’s not doing anything else or when he has “more time,” such as on weekends. For television shows, Ethan has a DVR and avoids most TV commercials. Ethan enjoys finding out about new products through advertising. He benefits from ads that teach him something, for example, a Smart Balance ad that taught him about a plant-based cholesterol reducer. As a networker, Ethan receives informa- tion on products from his friends and others in his social circle. He loves keeping up with the news and calls himself a “voracious con- sumer of print media.” He prefers to read the news- city and is a proud mem- ber of an exclusive mid- town social club. He goes to the club three to four times a week to relax and read newspapers. His so- cial contacts are of utmost importance to him. Ethan welcomes nearly all kinds of advertising and finds it entertain- ing. The only ads he finds intrusive are the “creepy- crawly” moving pop-up ads online, which he tries to close as quickly as pos- sible. His favorite place to look at ads is on the sub- way and on buses, because they are non-interruptive. He feels similarly about ads on billboards and in newspapers and maga- zines. Ethan prefers ads to be engaging, simple and beautiful. online and rarely in print, except for free papers handed out on the street. Donia reads The New York Times online every day, all the time. She has become used to the format and is easily able to ignore any ads on the page, unless an ad pops up. She does not see a con- nection between advertis- ing and news. The two re- main completely separate in her brain, with ads as something she has had to learn to tolerate in order to get to the news. Ethan as- pires to be a wealthy and power- ful busi- nessman. He lives on the Upper West Side of the New York City Ethan, 37 Property Manager
  30. 30. A New Model for Communication 30 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners of friends, he is the “go-to guy” for fixing anything electronic. Overall, Jason takes a pragmatic approach toward advertising. He relies on ads to keep in- formed about new prod- ucts and services, and this plays an important role in his life. Jason enjoys tele- vision ads most because he likes to see and hear about products. He is not keen on online ads, which are often forced on him when he wants access to content. While he does not go out of his way to share adver- tising, Jason does share information about special deals he finds on aggrega- tor sites that he visits on a daily basis. Jason is most interested and engaged with ads that Ethan doesn’t often no- tice ads online while con- suming news, but he will notice them in the printed newspaper. Newspaper ads are more engaging to him because he finds them bigger, more artsy, more beautiful and clever. Jason lives in the suburb of Lynbrook, N.Y., about an hour outside of Man- hattan, with his wife and two children, ages 13 and 8. The family enjoys sports, taking family trips, going out to the movies and din- ing out. He is an avid con- sumer of technology and enjoys working on home- improvement projects and playing golf. In his fam- ily and among his circle paper in print, which he does on the train, subway, at the club and at home on the weekends. While he is at work, however, he reads news mostly on nytimes. com, cnn.com, and newy- orkmag.com. He doesn’t watch news on TV because he prefers to choose which stories to consume. One of his favorite things to do is to read the Sunday New York Times at home, and he “can spend hours reading it.” He was bothered by the fact that his two favorite publica- tions, The New York Times and Esquire, have recently featured ads on their front pages. He called it “a sign of the times,” but as a man who honors and respects tradition, he was unhappy with the new development. New York City Jason, 45 Property Manager
  31. 31. A New Model for Communication 31 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners a moderate level of atten- tiveness to advertising. Jason is primarily inter- ested in local news, sports news, technology news and financial news, and keeps informed on national and international news stories as well. When he is more relaxed and passively re- ceiving news, he feels he is more receptive and aware of advertising. Carly works as an office assistant at an indepen- dent record label in Manhattan. Origi- nally from Detroit, she has lived on and off in the New York area over the past four years. She shares a two-bedroom apartment with her cat and a friend in Brooklyn. She enjoys inserts or circulars in the Sunday newspapers as well as TV ads. Jason’s news consump- tion occurs throughout the day. On the train, he gets news from reading his lo- cal newspaper and maga- zines. Once at work, he has news radio on in the background and will usu- ally check his My Yahoo page at least once to scan headlines from AP and Reuters news feeds. On the days he stays home, he gets news through watching his local news and CNN, in addition to reading the newspaper and checking his My Yahoo page. In the evenings after work, he occasionally watches net- work news on television. When he is consuming news, Jason feels he has relate to his interests. He is also engaged with ad- vertising that communi- cates some kind of special offer or promotion. He ap- preciates a well-crafted ad and spoke favorably about ads for the Apple iPhone. For Jason, interruptive ads include those that ap- pear before online videos or ads that seem randomly placed. He acknowledges that online video ads are necessary and sees value in them but has little pa- tience for them nonetheless. Jason’s engagement with advertising varies. When he is busy or rush- ing, he does not pay atten- tion, but when he is more relaxed (such as when he is home watching televi- sion), he is more receptive. On weekends, he looks at New York City Carly, 28 Office Assistant
  32. 32. A New Model for Communication 32 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners entertained, get informa- tion or relieve her bore- dom. She has a low regard for online advertising, but she concedes that some on- line advertising can meet her needs. Carly is more receptive to advertising when she is communicating online with friends via e-mail or Facebook. She finds video advertising less engag- ing compared with print ads, given her interests in design, but recognizes that video does have the power to create an emotional connec- tion to a product or service. Carly’s news consump- tion occurs primarily online and on television in the evenings and week- ends. In the morning, she often scans gothamist.com. On weekends, she usually of her way to share adver- tising or Web links. She takes a passive role and relies on others to share links and information with her. Carly is most engaged with print ads and tries to avoid online and televi- sion ads. Over the years, one of the significant changes she has noticed with advertising is the increased use of what she calls “absurdism.” She has mixed feelings about this advertising approach and feels it is overused. In the evenings after work or on weekends, Carly is more relaxed, has more free time and is more engaged with advertising. For Carly, advertising fulfills her desires to be her neighborhood, which reminds her of Detroit. Carly describes herself as a sociable person who is very into music and the arts. In her free time, she DJs at local bars and performs in a band. Since music is a big passion in her life, she hopes to get a more substantial job in the music industry in the near future. With a background in photography, Carly is focused on design. She tends to appreciate an ad’s artistic qualities, rather than the specific product or service being adver- tised. She also appreciates the entertainment value of ads, particularly the use of humor. Carly may comment on ads that she finds entertaining to her friends, but does not go out
  33. 33. A New Model for Communication 33 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners friends and her colleagues “are all intertwined.” She keeps up with her network via Facebook, MySpace and Photoblog, and with her inner circle by phone, texting, e-mail and Face- book. Leslie feels that adver- tising is everywhere. She sees it most of all on the subway and on billboards. But in many cases, Leslie says, “I just don’t notice it.” She blanks out TV commercials. (“It’s just noise.”) Most of the time she watches shows that she and her partner record, so they fast-forward through the commercials. To Leslie, advertising is “always about getting more money.” She feels that advertisements re- semble “hands grabbing not something she discuss- es with friends. Carly does not actively seek out news stories but rather takes a browse and scan approach. Leslie is an event man- ager with a side job as an opera- tions manager for Victo- ria’s Secret promotions and display. She lives with her partner of nine months and considers her immediate family to be “me, my partner and our three pets.” Leslie’s family means everything to her; most of her extended fam- ily is in Hawaii. She calls herself the mediator of the family. Leslie has a large network of friends in Cali- fornia, Hawaii and New York, and loves that her reads The New York Times online, focusing on the arts and book review sec- tions. She does not consid- er herself a news junkie, but wants to keep in- formed so that she is “not walking into the world not knowing that something huge happened.” When consuming news online, Carly tends not to notice advertising, because she knows where to expect it in the context of the sites she visits. Similarly, when watching television news, she tends not to focus on the advertising and is generally put off by com- mercials. Carly gravitates toward entertainment news and local news rather than hard news or world news. For her, news consumption is a solitary pursuit and New York City Leslie, 30 Freelance Event Manager
  34. 34. A New Model for Communication 34 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners and in the world. She is familiar with the formats of the news sites she fre- quents and avoids the ads. Sam recent- ly gradu- ated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in metropolitan stud- ies and urban design. He grew up in a New Jersey suburb about 40 minutes outside of New York City. He describes himself as an analytical, inquisitive and sociable person with a diverse set of interests in- cluding music, snowboard- ing, skateboarding and cycling. For the past year, he has lived at his parents’ home to save money. He recently started working as a front-desk clerk at a the point. When ads go further, such as trying to convince her of something, she gets turned off. Leslie hates online advertising and tries to ignore it. She despises ads that move across the page and hates when online ads appear in places they weren’t before. She under- stands that much of what she does online is free and funded by ads, yet she is irritated by the ads. Leslie is most likely to read the news online on the sites of CNN, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. She occasionally gets a paper version of The New York Times on Sunday to read leisurely. She likes keep- ing up to date on “what’s happening” around her out at you,” trying to pull the consumer in different directions. Getting used to a constant barrage of advertising has pushed Leslie to gauge her wants versus her real needs. Leslie uses friends to help sort her priorities. She regularly shares information about travel, shopping, events, restau- rants, jobs and more with her friends and colleagues. She likes products to be vetted by real people before she purchases them and visits yelp.com or other consumer reviews sites. Leslie notices ads most often in the subway and in magazines. Advertising encourages her “to look into that.” She appreciates ads that are clever and to New York City Sam, 22 Hotel Desk Clerk
  35. 35. A New Model for Communication 35 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners advertising more. Sam feels that adver- tising addresses his need to be entertained and informed. The need to be entertained is largely met by ads that Sam views on television. Online ad- vertising does fulfill his need to be informed, but Sam has less patience for the format of online ads, particularly if he is fo- cused on getting to desired content. He also feels that the quality of advertising online is inconsistent and often gimmicky. Sam primarily con- sumes news online in the evenings. Occasionally, he will watch the evening news on television with his family. On average, he estimates spending be- tween 10 and 30 minutes a that appeal to his sense of humor, particularly com- mercials on television. He enjoys creative print ads and online ads that use Flash technology. Sam feels that online ads that require him to interact by clicking are interruptive and annoying, particular- ly if he is focused on get- ting to particular content. The time of day impacts Sam’s tolerance for adver- tising. When he is online and doing a focused activ- ity, being forced to inter- act with advertising in the form of pop-up ads or “floating ads that require X-ing out of” causes him to become annoyed and frus- trated. If he is more casu- ally browsing the Internet or watching television, usually in the evenings or weekends, he tolerates hotel close to his home in New Jersey. He sees this job as a stepping-stone to property management, though he would like to continue pursuing his interests in urban design and planning. Sam regards advertising as “everywhere” in his en- vironment. He recognizes the power of advertising to inform and influence people but feels that the constant bombardment of advertising can have nega- tive effects. Sam tends to share information and advertising that he finds entertaining or humorous. Sharing content allows him to feel connected with his network of friends. The types of advertising Sam finds most interest- ing and engaging are ads
  36. 36. A New Model for Communication 36 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners advertising has become overwhelming, creeping into personal lives, but that some forms of adver- tising can be entertaining and eye-opening to new products or events. Most advertising annoys Ange- la because it feels invasive and does not seem to serve a purpose beyond “yelling something at me.” She explains, “Sometimes you feel like you’re just be- ing bombarded by things. Other times you think that is really cool, let me check that out. Other times it’s just, get that away from me; I don’t want to see it. I’m going to change the channel; I’m going to turn this off. I’m going to close the Internet browser.” Angela just got a Blackberry that she uses Angela works for a plastic surgeon and lives with her boyfriend in San Francis- co. She exudes confidence and an enthusiasm for life. She enjoys going to new restaurants and see- ing live music. Although Angela dislikes the term “foodie,” she spends a lot of time searching yelp.com and opentable.com and values user reviews for their “unbiased nature,” in contrast to paid reviews or advertisements. Angela feels there is a distinction between “honest” informa- tion and “biased” informa- tion. Angela has a love/hate relationship with adver- tising. She believes that day looking at news Web sites, such as CNN and MSNBC. When checking these sites, his approach is to quickly scan headlines and then read articles or view video news stories. While he generally ignores advertising on news sites, he understands the necessity of having ads with the news, particular- ly when watching videos. Sam’s level of engagement with the news impacts the likelihood of his noticing the accompanying adver- tising. When focused on getting to news content, particularly serious news, he does not want to be distracted by advertising. Generally, since he feels he has limited time, he does not want advertising to im- pede his access to the news. San Francisco Angela, 24 Operating Room Technician
  37. 37. A New Model for Communication 37 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Dalton is a divorced man who has lived in the San Francisco area all his life. His son lives nearby. Dalton is an accountant for local community-based foundations. Six months prior to the interview, Dalton’s fiancé passed away suddenly from com- plications due to high blood pressure. He went through a difficult pe- riod but found some relief when he befriended a lo- cal rabbi who introduced spirituality to his life. Dalton is attracted to advertisements as a form of information and enter- tainment when they are relevant to his life and interests. When asked what his life would be like Angela reads The San Francisco Chronicle and The Oakland Tribune in hard copy most days, although she admits she skims through the news for headlines that are of interest to her. She tries to force herself to read “news news,” meaning politics or world events, but is most interested in entertain- ment and local stories. When reading the hard- copy newspaper, Angela always notices the ads because they are “huge!” Although she is annoyed these ads take up more visual space than the news, she does skim them because she is interested in the clothing sales or restaurant reviews. to check her e-mail, read news and perform other online functions. More recently, she has begun receiving text messages that are advertisements for things like ringtones and wallpaper, which she feels are “completely use- less.” Angela expects to see advertisements while watching TV or spending time online and has come to accept those experienc- es. However, she is dis- turbed by the text ads on her cell phone. She feels very strongly that her cell phone should be “off lim- its” because it feels more “personal to me.” Since she carries the Blackberry at all times, “it is like an invasion of my personal space … It is almost like someone is sticking adver- tisements in my purse.” San Francisco Dalton, 55 Accountant
  38. 38. A New Model for Communication 38 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners ing with ads during his news consumption, he is more likely to notice an ad that relates to the article, or if the advertising ac- companies “fluff.” “The more serious the news subject, the less likely I am to notice advertising … I’m less receptive to some- thing that is way off track … in entertainment my mind is in a lighter place.” James is a Chinese man who lives in a suburb of San Francisco with his 2-year-old daughter, Cassie. James works for his family’s real estate business and commutes into San Francisco daily. During the past two years, he divorced Cassie’s reactions and force him to watch something he may not be interested in. Dalton is well-informed about local and world news, and he spends a lot of time reading and watch- ing the news. His morning ritual includes an hour of preparation, including exercising and getting dressed. During this time, he watches the local news and weather. He reads The Examiner during his com- mute, sees a bit of local and entertainment news on a mini-TV in the eleva- tor in his work office, and he checks The New York Times and BBC online during work hours. His evenings end with about 30 minutes of news on TV. Although he does not spend a lot of time engag- if advertisements did not exist, Dalton replied: “I like communication to see what’s out there; other- wise I’d be lost. I might as well be back in the 80’s! It is part of living now, there are so many things you can take advantage of … how would you know about it, if you didn’t see or hear an ad or media. It’s all about ads.” Although Dalton has a positive attitude toward advertising, he feels that it has become more in- vasive over the years. He loves TV commercials, although they sometimes bother him, especially when commercials raise the volume significantly compared to the TV shows he’s watching. He is per- turbed that advertisers are trying to control his San Francisco James, 34 Real Estate Agent
  39. 39. A New Model for Communication 39 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners as advertisers across Asia seem to do. “They have these videos on their buses … and they always catch your attention.” James was really taken with a video ad for a new camera that had video ca- pability. He spoke highly about it and even sent it around to family and friends. He also continued his research to find user reviews and actual videos that users had taken. James consumes a lot of news on his own time. On the rare occasion when he does not have his daugh- ter, James watches the late news. Otherwise, he consumes all his news online. He gave up reading printed newspapers a few years ago for convenience. His phone is able to ac- James does most of his research on fatwallet.com and slickdeals.net. After a few experiences with the sites, James became “ad- dicted” to them and now spends time on both sites every night before bed. He never shops in person and uses the Web as his main source of informa- tion. James trusts these sites because their users are people like him, who are looking for a good deal and “watching each others’ backs.” It is very important to James that these sites remain valid sources of information, so they don’t turn into “just advertising.” James feels that video provides the deepest infor- mation and highest enter- tainment value. He wishes American advertisers would use video as much mother, moved in with his parents and took full cus- tody of his daughter. His life revolves around Cassie and his new identity as a single father. He explains, “Since I became a father 26 months ago, advertising has become very impor- tant to me. It informs me of new products that could be very useful for my baby. But I don’t trust adver- tisements completely ... So my world depends on user reviews.” James is inherently sus- picious of advertisements because he knows they present the positive side of products. Advertise- ments do not prompt him to make purchase imme- diately but rather encour- age him to do additional online research, especially for unbiased user reviews.
  40. 40. A New Model for Communication 40 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners worked as a designer for a company specializing in window coverings. He spends half of his time in the office creating propos- als and calling clients. The other half is spent driving around to com- mercial and individual residences to see clients’ windows and design proj- ects. Daniel’s wife works at their 3-year-old daugh- ter’s pre-school and is an artist. As a family they try to “keep our footprint small” by not consuming a lot. This mentality impacts Daniel’s awareness of advertising and his under- standing of advertisers’ goals. They do not shop much unless Daniel is looking for “gear” related to outdoor activities, such as mountain biking or nals so he can read them while the signal is gone. When James gets to work each morning, he spends about 30 minutes reading the news on his computer. During this time, he is fo- cused on getting the news, so he says he does not pay attention to ads. However, most of the ads he reports as getting his attention occur during this time and space. Daniel is a laid-back family man who values the free- dom his job provides. After his college graduation, he worked for a few friends in the home- repair field and traveled as a carpenter. For the past five years, he has cess “mobile versions” of various Web sites, so he has a number of news sites bookmarked. These mobile sites show a picture and a headline, and have almost no advertisements. James says he uses the sites be- cause he can “get my news kick faster and without distractions.” He does not usually pay attention to advertisements while he is reading the news on his phone. James accesses news about local stories, busi- ness, real estate, travel, Asia, the financial market and the economy. He is not interested in political news or entertainment news. Since his phone does not always get a signal in the Bay Area transporta- tion system, he downloads articles between the sig- San Francisco Daniel, 42 Designer of Window Treatments
  41. 41. A New Model for Communication 41 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners related to his particular interests. However, ads engage him in limited spaces, mostly on Web sites specifically related to his interests. Daniel dislikes the feeling of being manipu- lated by advertising. “I don’t like to be assaulted or made paranoid about something. An alarm company had an ad saying, ‘You don’t love your family enough to buy this.’ Some- thing like that … it’s a little heavy-handed. Stuff like that really irritates me.” Daniel has become adept at ignoring advertis- ing when it appears where he expects it, and he is comfortable with the lack of advertising in his life. Daniel’s workday is bro- ken up with many small almost impossible not to. Phone, computer, outside, turn on the radio. It’s hard to avoid, you can’t get away from it … Do I need the ad- vertisement when I turn around to grab a paper towel? When I open my cereal? I think there is a place between nothing and complete saturation.” Since Daniel views him- self as someone who does not consume much and his family typically purchases second-hand items, Daniel does not have a very posi- tive view of advertising. He thinks of advertising as manipulation, to which he does not want to suc- cumb. His attitude is not contingent on the form of advertising, although he cited online ads most often. Advertisements that catch his attention are skiing. He enjoys spending time on Web sites related to these activities, which include forums for selling used gear. Daniel views advertis- ing as something that’s “coming from all sides” and believes most fami- lies allow advertising to dictate their purchases, especially when children are in the picture. He ex- plains, “I see other people who buy toys constantly, and the kids just pick it up and are like, ‘Next.’ We try not to be like that … we’re not the ultimate consumers. Try to keep it simple.” He recognizes the need for advertising and finds some of it enter- taining but worries about being inundated with commercials. “You get it from so many angles, it’s
  42. 42. A New Model for Communication 42 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Jack is a cynical per- son. He is instinctually distrustful of advertis- ers and thinks he knows “a lot about how they work.” Jack believes that advertisements show the public only the positive side of the story. He be- lieves that “advertising is largely manipulative in my estimation.” But he acknowledges the role it plays in society and the media. “TV, more or less, does not exist without advertising. Newspapers, large media outlets on the Internet – those places all require the presence of advertisers.” Beyond that, he counts commercials as a source of entertainment. He thinks commercials that are “funny and bizarre” are the most entertaining, al- though not necessarily the most effective. thing is if it’s a movie trailer. He explains, “I have limited time and watching commercials is not the highlight.” Jack has drifted through various jobs since graduating from college with a degree in English literature. Currently, he does freelance work for a variety of contacts and companies, mostly related to music or video-game writing. Although he enjoys the freedom of this work, he worries about his future. Jack is a loner by choice. He explains that he is not a “social butterfly” and is extremely self- reliant. tasks, and in between each one, Daniel typically uses a Web site or his e-mail to transition. As he calls a client and waits for a response, he may quickly check his personal e-mail or open up a news Web site and read quickly. When his client answers the phone, he will close the site. Daniel is exposed to advertising in these small moments online, but he never notices what the ad is for or spends time thinking about it. His en- gagement level is extreme- ly low during his at-work multi-tasking. The family does not watch much TV but when it does, it happens via the DVR, fast-forwarding through the commercials. The only time Daniel will go back to watch some- San Francisco Jack, 24 Freelance Writer
  43. 43. A New Model for Communication 43 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Jac- queline is an “aging hippie” living in a large San Francisco home with her cat. She grew up in Loui- siana and went to school for pre-veterinarian train- ing. After graduation she moved to San Francisco for three years and then lived in Hawaii for six years selling college textbooks and traveling. When her mother became ill, she de- cided to move back to the mainland and returned to San Francisco, which she considers “the center.” Jacqueline has held a number of jobs in different industries. She currently works as a landlord but spends most of her time volunteering for local of his “generation” are used to multi-tasking and know how to pay attention only to what they consider important. When Jack is outside his home or online he expects to be bombard- ed by messages but knows how to filter them out. Jack consumes a lot of online news throughout the day, but at a very shallow level. He prefers browsing headlines to reading full articles. Jack does not read about world news or politics because he feels they do not directly impact him. For his mu- sic and movie news, Jack regularly checks message boards and user-content sites related to these top- ics. Although Jack does not purchase many items due to his financial limita- tions, he has a strong ap- preciation for the creativ- ity behind advertising and will sometimes make a small purchase because he likes an advertisement. He views this as a small “re- ward” for the advertiser. Jack acknowledges that advertising has become more common, but also that he has become more adept at filtering out what he does not want to see. “There is also a gro- tesque element to [adver- tising] depending on the extent to which it is taken. There is one particular area of town in LA where you can hardly see the sky above all the billboards.” He believes that people San Francisco Jacqueline, 55 Landlord
  44. 44. A New Model for Communication 44 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners up with her computer cal- endar. Jacqueline does not check her e-mail on the iPhone and hasn’t encoun- tered advertising on it. Victoria lives in San Fran- cisco with her hus- band, their three cats, and two dogs. Victoria enjoys her current position at an online ticket agency, but feels she has reached a point of stagnation. In 2001, following 9/11, Vic- toria decided to go back to school because she had always regretted dropping out of college. After seven years of night classes, Vic- toria obtained a degree in communications. Victoria married her Jacqueline feels over- whelmed by the breadth of information available to her. She believes her age might also be a reason why she does not see ads online. Jacqueline feels “that younger generations can process so much. I just get overwhelmed. There is too much information. Help! I’m overwhelmed by too much. You tend to freeze up and block out … I’m in the middle of doing something else and if I keep stopping to do ads, I won’t ever get done.” As a Christmas pres- ent to herself, Jacqueline bought an iPhone. It may have been a surprising purchase for someone who is not looking for additional connections or information, but she loves the phone because it syncs community organizations, such as animal foster care, wildlife conservation, vol- unteer networks and local schools. Jacqueline believes that advertising does not impact her. At her stage of life, she feels it’s more valuable to “get rid of stuff, not buy anything more … As much as adver- tising wants to sell stuff, to be sane you have to get rid of stuff. You can’t keep accumulating.” When asked about advertising, Jacqueline says, “I think I’m someone who ignores it … I’m just tuning it out.” Jacqueline does not rush to make a purchase. She believes that the largest impact an advertisement might have is to trigger a thought or a note to herself. San Francisco Victoria, 35 Web Site Manager
  45. 45. A New Model for Communication 45 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners issue for Victoria when it comes to advertising. She feels she must conduct her own research on any product or service she learns about from a com- mercial because, “everyone makes these claims. I feel like they are making the claims to sell products, not to improve your life or add value to your life. They are trying to tell you it’ll add value to your life. You then have to ask yourself, what is valuable to me?” She uses consumer re- ports, user reviews and her social network to find out about how products are used. Victoria appreciates the information that adver- tisements often provide, but dislikes many of the forms it takes. She feels that advertising now ap- Victoria’s household is covered in pet hair, and she is constantly on the lookout for a fix. One night, while relaxing in front of the TV with her husband, “A commercial came on. It was a woman and she started using this thing on the couch and I was like, ‘I have to have that’ … and the next day, I went to get one and used it and loved it. And, all my friends who have pets, I told them about it … I actually sent an e-mail to everybody.” The pet hair commercial experience was perfect for her, be- cause it not only fit a per- sonal need, it arrived at a time when she was relaxed at home. It also showed how the product worked so she trusted the quality. Trust is a significant husband, whom she met through match.com, in 2004. He works in archi- tecture. Victoria’s life motto is “you have to treat yourself and reward your- self every day.” To do so, she takes a daily walk, cooks good food and spends time with her husband and animals. Victoria and her hus- band are fairly open to advertising, as long as it appears during a time and place when they are relaxed. When they get home from work each night, they cook dinner together and then watch between two to three hours of TV. They do not have a DVR, so they watch all of the commercials. This is a time when Victoria may learn about new products or services.
  46. 46. A New Model for Communication 46 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners friends. She often e-mails friends, family or co-work- ers about news or products. She explains, “If I see a news story that I think somebody might be inter- ested in or using a product that I think somebody would be interested in, I’ll share it with them.” return. Victoria does yoga by watching an on-demand cable show. She does not mind ads before and after the class, “because I know I’m getting it for free, rather than pay for doing that program … I notice them but I don’t really pay attention to them.” Victoria is “known as the person in the know” among her group of pears in new and more invasive spaces. Victoria explains, “It seems to be much more prominent in places it didn’t used to be ... it just seems to be creep- ing up in more and more places … I’m a little both- ered by this.” The one time when she does not mind advertis- ing “creeping up” is when she receives something in
  47. 47. A New Model for Communication 47 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners Few people pursue the consumption of advertis- ing, or news, with the organization and determi- nation of Donna. They are more likely to give up in the face of mounting mes- sages and disengage from the experience altogether. For instance, some of the study subjects in New York who encountered advertis- ing everywhere, including the subway, reached the point of “not noticing” it anymore, according to their observers. Not noticing is a step up from the hostility some exhibited for unwanted advertising, but the prob- lem was the same in any case. The communication These broad findings suggest that the root of the advertising consump- tion problem lies in the current disruption of predictable modes of information delivery and the lack of proper filters for making sense of the chaotic new world. The experience of Donna from Atlanta was emblematic of the condition. Even a super-organized execu- tive whose friends call her “Miss Information” found it difficult to keep pace. She religiously stacked published ads into piles every week for sorting, but they served as an intimi- dating reminder of her constant struggle to stay in the know. Consumers May Be Tired But They’re Still Eager The subjects in this study shared two key attributes: They were tired, even an- noyed, by the current expe- rience of advertising. And they lacked trust in most commercial messaging. At the same time, they also exhibited two prom- ising motivations: They were eager to receive in- formation that met their needs and just as eager to pass that information along to their personal networks. Section 3: Conclusions and Recommendations KEY FINDINGS: A Model in Transition
  48. 48. A New Model for Communication 48 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners view the behavior and re- sponses of the study group as evidence of a larger communications disorder in the evolving culture. Belinda from New York summed up the situation: “I think there is too much advertising. Every avail- able space is taken up, and I feel like I can never get away from it.” This plainly constituted a cry of desperation, and even the most organized subject in the study group, Donna the stockpiler of print ads in Atlanta, had to acknowledge the true dimensions of the consum- er’s challenge: “I kinda’ look at advertising as a positive and a negative. On the positive side, all day long we have messages fired at us … I welcome that in a way because it’s ment from consumers. But that idea proved too limiting in the context of the ethnographic analysis. Many of the subjects in the study said they appre- ciated good creative forms of advertising but the overall environment was so polluted it didn’t mat- ter. The good was getting lost amid all the bad. In effect, asking whether it was a good time to talk wasn’t going to be good enough. The overall environ- ment for making a welcomed connection to consumers needed to be addressed. Ad Annoyance Is a Symptom of a Larger Disorder As the ethnography unfolded, the Context anthropologists came to appeared to be failing at a fundamental level. Better Content or Timing Are Not Enough to Connect An initial hypothesis, formed in the first phase of this project based on existing research, was that people’s disaffection with advertising could be reme- died with better content or better timing. The thrust of the question – “Is now a good time to talk?” ­– was that advertising might be welcomed if it were good enough and arrived at the right moment. The early research sug- gested that more imagina- tive work from the cre- ative teams of advertising agencies and better ad placement would lead to a higher level of engage-
  49. 49. A New Model for Communication 49 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners how would you know about it if you didn’t see or hear an ad or media? It’s all about ads.” Along these lines, others grudgingly admitted that interruptive ads actu- ally can deliver necessary and useful information. In fact, in response to the question of what they would do if advertising went away, many subjects were unable to describe what could replace the function of advertising in their lives. While that may be comforting to publishers and advertisers, it’s not a rationale for continu- ing to conduct business as usual. The situation begs the question of what the creators of commercial content should do differ- tempts people make – pas- sively, actively, consciously and subconsciously – to process all the informa- tion they encounter. In short, it can’t be done, which suggests a true dis- order, rather than a tran- sitory feeling of fatigue, Context concluded. Commercial Speech is Still Valued The subjects of the study made it clear that as much as advertising and com- mercial speech may be an- noying, it is also necessary. Dalton from San Fran- cisco, for instance, said: “I like communication to see what’s out there; other- wise I’d be lost. I might as well be back in the 80’s! It is part of living now, there are so many things you can take advantage of … a way of me staying con- nected to what’s going on ... the negative side is that because advertising is so prominent, so much so that your eyes get tired … sometimes it can be inva- sive … I feel like their goal is to get inside my mind.” Donna’s comments, or symptoms, suggest that the information and ad- vertising “fatigue” that subjects complained about was actually something more serious. What some of these subjects were really saying is that they were more than tired. They were overwhelmed and, in some cases, shocked into inactiv- ity by the amount of infor- mation they were receiving. The ultimate shock to the system comes from the constant, but futile, at-
  50. 50. A New Model for Communication 50 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners packagers of information, such as local newspapers, which connected read- ers with advertisers in a trusted environment. The ‘Social Contract’ Is in Need of Repair The popularity of user- generated sites and social networks is a movement that has meaning for many aspects of the cul- ture. But one message it sends is unmistakable: People are looking to establish a new framework for communication in the digital age. Old models, many of which were characterized by one party delivering the information and the other party passively re- ceiving it, are not measur- ing up to people’s expecta- true and what did not. The dominant position of user-generated con- tent on these sites also provided subjects with a sense that they and their peers were regaining some control over the communi- cation process. From an anthropologi- cal perspective, the reason these sites cut through the clutter is that they are about creating the right environment to foster the right relationships that establish productive and efficient conversations. For the subjects of this ethnography, these user- led sites offered a struc- ture to filter communica- tions and minimize the noise. In some ways, these sites are filling a role his- torically played by trusted ently to get people the con- tent they know they need. Social Vetting Opens a Path to Restoring Trust With the explosion of so- cial networking as a back- drop to the timing of this study, it was no surprise that the subjects looked to their friends, family and like-minded peers for guidance on how to vet information and ads. Subjects in the study found some clarity in the chaos by tapping into Web tools that could clear away the clutter. Working through social-networking sites like Facebook and consumer sites like Fatwal- let, people were able to find information and vet it with others to ascertain what made sense and what rang
  51. 51. A New Model for Communication 51 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners “But that kind of thinking presupposes that people are knowingly building a new way of communi- cation. For now, people’s behavior suggests they are just trying to muddle through. The process of building a fully function- ing new communication infrastructure will take some time.” Blinkoff and his team used the anthropological term “Communitas” to describe the transition the culture appears to be mak- ing from one set of communi- cations standards to another. “From an anthropologi- cal point of view, societal structures disappear when they no longer provide the guidance they have in the past,” said Blinkoff. “When these structures done in the information space. As long as technol- ogy enabled it, why not pop up an online ad, paper over the subway walls and cars, and generally invade every available space with advertising? Out of Disorder Comes ‘Communitas’ The Context team con- cluded that a new social contract was needed in the information space and that the people themselves were starting to take mat- ters into their own hands. “One could say that people are looking to cre- ate a new structure and they are not sure how to go about forging this new structure,” observed Rob- bie Blinkoff, Context’s principal anthropologist. tions for what technology should be capable of en- abling. Why put up with the torrent of pushed mes- sages from information providers and advertisers when there ought to be a better way to sort through it? Providers of informa- tion are doing what they do because they can, and those on the receiving end are getting increasingly anxious about managing the overload. Based on the observa- tions from this study group, the anthropologists said they saw evidence that the “social contract” between providers and users of information had been strained, if not bro- ken. There seemed to be no boundaries anymore between what could be done and what should be
  52. 52. A New Model for Communication 52 A research report from The Associated Press, Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners emergency is a demonstra- tion of Communitas, as like-minded people con- verged for a common cause. In the case of the ad- vertising study group, people were expressing similar frustrations and needs and falling back on their social networks and peer groups for help. That doesn’t mean chaos will reign. In fact, a robust Com- munitas can create a solid foundation for a new in- formation order to emerge, Blinkoff maintained. The News Model Meets Communitas The news model that Context and AP construct- ed in their first collabora- tion has direct application to this line of reasoning. cess, people re-identify who they are, and society as a whole can redefine what social structures will exist in the future. Historically, the kibbutz movement in Israel or the hippie subculture in the United States could be considered examples of Communitas. More recently, even the situation-specific response to the Haiti earthquake disappear, anthropologists suggest an era of Commu- nitas is taking hold.” Despite its academic ring, Communitas pro- vides a straightforward framework for dissecting the situation. In a time of Communitas, people use egalitarian communities to share feelings, ideas and solutions. In the pro- The hippie movement was an example of Communitas. (AP Photo)