Media Audiences an Introduction


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An introduction to what an audience is, how this relates to media studies and why audiences are important. Presentation talks about categorisation, audience fragmentation, the impact of new technology and links to help support your learning.

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Media Audiences an Introduction

  1. 1. AUDIENCES AIM: By the end of the presentation, you will understand what an audience is, know the difference between mass and niche audiences, and understand how and why audiences are categorized. Created by Sarah Cullum for
  2. 2. What is an audience? <ul><li>An individual or collective group of people who read or consume any media text </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: Radio listeners, Television viewers, Newspaper and magazine readers, Web traffic on web sites. </li></ul><ul><li>Can you think of any other types of audiences? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why are audiences important? <ul><li>Without audiences there would be no media. </li></ul><ul><li>Media organizations produce media texts to make profit – no audience = no profit. </li></ul><ul><li>The mass media is becoming more competitive than ever to attract more and more audiences in different ways and stay profitable. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Impact of New Technology on Audiences <ul><li>Old media (TV, Print, Radio) which used to have high audience numbers must now work harder to maintain audience numbers. </li></ul><ul><li>Digital technology has also led to an increasing uncertainty over how we define an audience, with the general agreement that a large group of people reading the same thing at the same time is outdated and that audiences are now ‘fragmented’. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Fragmented audience <ul><li>The division of audiences into smaller groups due to the variety of media outlets. </li></ul><ul><li>EXAMPLE: Newspapers and magazines – you can now view the hard copy AND online version (sometimes free). </li></ul><ul><li>The aim is to hit as many people as possible/sell more copies/generate a larger audience. But measuring that audience becomes hard! You may have some people that only look online, some that only read the hard copy, or some that do both! </li></ul>
  6. 6. So how do institutions continue to make money? <ul><li>Nothing in life is free </li></ul><ul><li>Free apps always have adverts, unless you pay to remove adds. </li></ul><ul><li>Websites and search engines work hard to target you with ads whilst you consume ‘free online’ versions of your media product </li></ul><ul><li>These adverts are carefully constructed and selected for the primary audience for each text </li></ul><ul><li>With newspapers, printing less copies and switching to online distribution can reduce production costs. (see your local newspaper) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Types of Audience <ul><li>Mass audience – often termed ‘broadcast audience’. Those who consume mainstream or popular texts such as soaps or sitcoms. Media and communication that targets a very large group of people (women, men, children, adults etc). </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of media with mass audience… </li></ul>
  8. 8. Types of Audience <ul><li>Niche audience – much smaller but very influential. A niche audience is a small, select group of people with a very unique interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of niche publications… </li></ul>
  9. 9. Activity 1 <ul><li>Mass or Niche? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Categories <ul><li>Audiences can be divided into categories based on social class/grade. </li></ul><ul><li>Why do we </li></ul><ul><li>categorise </li></ul><ul><li>audiences? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Psychographics <ul><li>Every advertiser wants to target a particular type of audience. Therefore, media companies produce texts that target a particular ‘type’ of audience. </li></ul><ul><li>In terms of commercial media, much of their funding is generated by advertising revenue. Their product needs to appeal to a specific type of audience so that advertisers will pay to promote their product. </li></ul><ul><li>Most media products can define their ‘typical’ audience member, often with a psychographic profile. </li></ul><ul><li>Example </li></ul>
  12. 12. A full list of categories with detailed notes <ul><li>Can be found at </li></ul><ul><li>For a summary, please look at the following slides </li></ul>
  13. 13. What types of media texts would they consume? Group A <ul><li>Lawyers </li></ul><ul><li>Doctors </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists </li></ul><ul><li>Well paid professionals </li></ul>
  14. 14. Group B – for each category, think about income boundaries <ul><li>Teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Middle management </li></ul><ul><li>Fairly well paid professionals </li></ul>
  15. 15. Group C1 – remember that categories are not fixed <ul><li>Junior management </li></ul><ul><li>Bank clerks </li></ul><ul><li>Nurses </li></ul><ul><li>‘ White collar ’ professions </li></ul>
  16. 16. Group C2 <ul><li>Electricians </li></ul><ul><li>Plumbers </li></ul><ul><li>Carpenters </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Blue collar ’ professions </li></ul>
  17. 17. Group D – some categories represent audience stereotypes <ul><li>Manual workers such as: </li></ul><ul><li>Drivers </li></ul><ul><li>Post sorters </li></ul>
  18. 18. Group E - You <ul><li>Students </li></ul><ul><li>Unemployed </li></ul><ul><li>Pensioners </li></ul>
  19. 19. Activity 2 <ul><li>1) Which category (or categories) of audience do the following media target? </li></ul><ul><li>2) How and why? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Research methods <ul><li>How do we measure media audiences? </li></ul><ul><li>Sales, subscriptions, ratings, figures </li></ul><ul><li>Who measures audiences? </li></ul><ul><li>NRS </li></ul><ul><li>ABC </li></ul><ul><li>BARB </li></ul><ul><li>Bookseller </li></ul><ul><li>(these are just some of the organisations who monitor audience sizes). </li></ul><ul><li>http:// </li></ul><ul><li>TASK: Find out about these companies, and see if you can find some more. </li></ul>
  21. 21. New Media <ul><li>Can you think of any NEW ways in which we can measure audience? Think about the picture below… </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook and other social network sites – ‘ like ’ </li></ul><ul><li>Online forums – comments tools </li></ul><ul><li>Views on YouTube & Google +1 </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter trends </li></ul><ul><li>CASE STUDY: Rebecca Black </li></ul><ul><li>How did a $4000 vanity video become a part of modern pop culture? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Research <ul><li>When looking at audiences, there are two main types of research: </li></ul><ul><li>Quantitative research – e.g. questionnaires. </li></ul><ul><li>Number based </li></ul><ul><li>Closed questions to generate exact answers </li></ul><ul><li>Very factual </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative research – e.g. interviews, focus groups </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of existing products </li></ul><ul><li>Open questions to generate answers open to interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Individual preferences </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative research will be very important in your coursework! </li></ul>
  23. 23. Activity 1 model answers <ul><li>Sky Sports – arguably mass audience as it covers a range of sports, but still a subscription service. </li></ul><ul><li>MAN Utd TV is also more niche and subscription service based, however, the global following/support for the team could be described as mass audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Antiques roadshow – whilst niche in terms of specialist interest, the fact that it is shown at prime time at weekends and features presenter Fiona Bruce, tells us that the programme can appeal to a wide range of audiences who might have items in their home, boot sellers and ebay fanatics. </li></ul><ul><li>Tip – keep an open mind! </li></ul>
  24. 24. Breakdown of TV audiences <ul><li>Taken from </li></ul><ul><li>Activity 2 – model answers: </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the texts have primary and secondary audiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Big Brother will largely attract students and those in groups c2 & D. Given the nature and content of material in the program and the synergy of coverage that the Big Brother gets in The Star (also owned by Richard Desmond who controls a large part of Channel 5) you can see how synergy works. This media text is clearly addressing the needs of a certain type of viewer and reader. </li></ul>