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How media producers define their target audience

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  • 1. Learning Outcome One: How media producers define their target audienceI am researching documentary media producers and how they define their target audience for theirdocumentaries.I will begin by researching different audience profiling methods and will then compare them at theend talking about which audience profiling methods media producers would use and wouldn’t useand why.Audience Profiling:Audience profiling allows media businesses to narrow down their audience/ customers to find theirtarget audience. It is always best for a media business to find their target audience before theymarket a new product (in our case a documentary) so they can get the best results and profit. Atarget audience is an audience that is most relevant and connected to the media product that acompany is trying to sell hence the name target audience.When a media business is defining an audience to find their target audience some of the factors theymust consider are… Age Gender Religion Race Sexuality Education Occupation Annual income Disposable income Current and desired lifestyle Media interests Buying habits Loyalty to brandsQuantitative research (TV viewing figures): Quantitativeresearch is a method used by documentaryproducers to define their target audience. This method allows media producers to see TV viewingfigures of TV channels. In my opinion this method does not really help much for documentaryproducers in finding their target audience because this method just tells you what channels/ TVprogrammes receive the most views and doesn’t give you any information about the audience whowatch these channels. Here is a link to a useful website that shows these viewing figures.http://www.barb.co.uk/The one way I see Quantitative research being helpful to documentary producers would be the factthat it tells you how many people are watching a certain channel or TV programme at a certain time.This can help media producers to define their target audience by finding the peak times of the daywhen a maximum amount of people are viewing TV.
  • 2. Qualitative research:Qualitative research is a more upfront and personal method for mediaproducers to find their target audience. This method requires the media producer or someoneworking for them to ask members of the public questions that will help them define their targetaudience, this can be done through different techniques such as focus groups, questionnaires or faceto face interviews. In my opinion this audience profiling method is very useful (in particular tomedia/ documentary producers) because it allows the media producers to be very detailed in whatthey want to find out from the public, some of the questions they could ask would be “what is yourfavourite channel?” or “What is your favourite genre of documentary?” . It is also a safer method fordefining the target audience because it gives you fresh information from the public rather thanfigures and answers from the internet or books that could easily be outdated.Socio- economic status research: Socio- economic status is a method used by industries/ businessesto find the right economic class audience for their target audience. For example you traditionallyhave three classes which are upper class, middle class and working class. Upper class composing ofpeople who are wealthy, well born or both. Middle class consists of people who fall between upperand working class. Working class are people with low paying jobs.This method is useless to a documentary producer. The reason for this being for example, a carcompany selling expensive cars would immediately focus its target audience at the upper classindividuals. However a documentary/ media producer is simply trying to find a target audience toadvertise to and persuade them to watch their media product on TV. The Broadcasters’ AudienceResearch Board (BARB) estimates 26.8 million households (approximately 97% of households) in theUK own televisions. So the Socio- economic status of the target audience doesn’t matter (fordocumentary producers anyway)Demographics: A very common and traditional method when audience profiling is to use ademographics chart to narrow down the search for the best target audience. The purpose of ademographics chart is to define the adult population largely by the work that they do. Thedemographic chart breaks the entire population of adults down into six groups. The chart then labelsthem by using a letter code that then describes the status and income of the members of eachgroup.This audience profiling method is allot more useful to media/ documentary producers than thesocio- economic status research method because rather than just choosing one of the three classes(upper, middle and working class) they have a march larger variety of choice for finding their targetaudience. For example, let’s say a media producer is trying to find the best target audience for a TVdocumentary which is about making a creative design for a skyscraper and then building it.Straightaway the producer can choose two groups that would be a target audience for thisdocumentary, Bbecause it has a large amount of creative workers in that group who would takeinterest in the design and structuring of the skyscraper and C2: Because the builder (other manualworkers too!) would take interest in the building process of the skyscraper.
  • 3. Psychographics:Psychographics are similar to Demographics but that they deal more with theaudience’s behavior and personality rather than the work they do. An eccentric party animal wouldsort in a separate group from someone more dependent on security and someone who’sintroverted. Of course, they aren’t meant to be discriminatory. The Demographics describe who theaudiences are whereas the Psychographics explain why they do what they do.Media producers often use Psychographics graphs to help profile their audience because just likedemographic charts, they are much more detailed and offer a larger variety of audience to choosefrom. For example a documentary producer is looking for a target audience for their documentary whichis about a group of 16-18 year old leaving home and living on their own for the first time having topay for themselves with no help from their parents in looking after themselves. The producer wouldchoose the reformers group because that contains people who want freedom of restrictions(independence). The producer could also choose the strugglers group for people who are seekingescape or are disorganised.
  • 4. Age & Gender: Age and Gender are an obvious but major part for audience research. Media/documentary producers need to have the target aged and gender decided first before they candefine their target audience any further (think of it as the structure of finding your target audience)It usually depends on the type of documentary the producer is trying to sell/ advertise. For exampleif a producer was trying to find a target audience for a documentary looking back at the history ofworld Margaret Thatcher they would go for a target audience age of between 40- 60 years oldbecause those were the people living those days, hence they would be more likely interested inwhat the documentary had to say.

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