Tag Archives: media research

The Media Research Industry has More Opportunities Than Ever Before

Insights have become a vehicle for influencing marketing and
ultimately, the world. That’s why next in our Insights as a Vehicle for
Influence interview series, we sat down with Sam Ford, a media executive,
consultant, and research affiliate with MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing. In
our conversation, he shed some light on how the media industry has changed and
how media companies can do a better job at reaching the ‘new age’ consumer.
What is the state of
the media research industry in 2017?
Media research is in an interesting state at the moment. On
the one hand, there’s more to potentially research than ever before. Quantitatively,
there’s more to research than ever before, and organizations are finding new
ways to collect, synthesize, and make sense of all the data they are bringing
in.
However, with that influx of data, there still remains a
certain surety in what it’s saying, without necessarily enough questioning of
whether we’re asking the right questions. I feel like we’ve spent a lot of time
in the media industries gathering the data that is easiest to gather, or that
feels the most similar to what we’ve always gathered, leading organizations to
continue to be driven by impressions-and-reach-based models, when they may
often not be serving the needs of media companies, advertisers, or audiences
all that well.
Meanwhile, there are more opportunities than ever to do
great qualitative research, from audience experience projects to netnography,
but organizations often have not prioritized/invested in these methods. Many
organizations are making deeper investments into digital research, but all too
often the teams aren’t connected in the ways they should be to maximize
effectiveness and minimize redundancy. And, most importantly of all, the sort
of pattern recognition most important for good insights work may not be
positioned in many media companies in a way that allows it to contribute all it
can. After all, gathering data, qualitative insights, benchmarking, and
thoughts about future trends are all only useful if there are ways all of this
is being synthesized, analyzed, and brought to the table for key decisions being
made across the organization.
What have been the
biggest changes in the industry since you started your career?
I’ve spent years on different sides of these questions. I
began my career as a journalist. For the past 12 years, I’ve tackled these
questions most consistently from an academic’s perspective, looking at these
questions from outside the day-to-day needs of a particular media organization.
I have spent many years consulting with big brands from a marketing and PR
standpoint. And I spent much of the past two years working at a media company
operating in the network television, cable television, digital publishing, and
digital video distribution spaces.
Across all those vantage points, I’ve seen an industry
weathering a prolonged period of massive change, largely by finding ways to
hold as closely as it can to an ongoing semblance of normalcy’which is to be
expected in an industry where businesses can never truly close up shop. We’ve
seen an acceptance that you can’t fight change throughout the media industries,
but it has come along with a desire to cling to the broadcast model.

Have the influx of
social media and mobile made your job easier or harder?
Media companies, and advertisers, used to have very few
methods to really understand and listen to their audiences. We have all sorts
of new methods to be able to do that now. So, rather than having to create
aggregate stand-ins like customer segmentation profiles for our audience, we
have more access to those real people than ever before.
However, with that overabundance of information, we’ve
strangely found ourselves in a similar position as when we didn’t have enough
information’relying too often on ways of understanding audiences that may not
be the most insightful. In this case, it’s what’s easiest to collect or feel
concrete about, in a world where the overabundance of potential information
gives us the feeling of chaos.
How has the media
consumer changed in the past few years?
I don’t suppose people have changed all that much, in the
sense that the way audiences are using technology often mirrors things people
have always wanted to do but couldn’t necessarily do so as easily, or’if they
did’happened in ways that media companies or advertisers couldn’t easily
detect. People want to keep media content. People want to share media content.
People want to talk back to media content. People like to have as much control
as they can over their choices. Now that those options are becoming easier,
viewers have to think even more deeply about how they want to engage with
different types of programming.
If I can watch a series at my own pace, what do I want that
pace to be? Do I watch different types of programming at different types of
paces? When do I want to engage more deeply with media content, versus when do
I want to engage more passively? As media organizations put more effort into
engaging active audiences, it leaves those audiences to think about when,
where, and how they want to participate.

How can media companies do a better job
reaching the new age consumer?
I think we are only scratching the surface of what we can do
to really resonate with audiences. Most importantly, I believe, is finding as
many ways as possible to put ourselves in the shoes of the audience members who
are coming to us on purpose. As we get away from reach metrics as the
cornerstone of our business models, it allows us to think about how we as an
industry build around the sort of CRM models that drive subscription-based businesses’that
lead to fostering an active audience base engaging with you on purpose, and
with purpose.
No matter what type of media company you are, it seems that
this is the most important, stable, and lucrative part of the audience, but the
one that business models have all too often driven companies to neglect and
take for granted. When we are imagining each month’s digital traffic goals or
viewership goals as tabula rasa, then everything becomes focused on driving as
much general-audience interest as possible in what we do.
And for those organizations that do, for instance,
serialized programming or subscription models, there’s still a lot of work to
be done to really understand and think about everything the media company does
from the shoes of that active audience. How do they want to engage with the
content? What else do they want from the media brand? Why do they become
proselytizers? How do you identify audiences already engaged in similar content
but who haven’t yet found their way to you? In such a cluttered media landscape
as we have today, we can’t take for granted that people will quickly find us.
What is the biggest
challenge in the media industry today?
We have machines built around pushing what’s on/coming out
now, not for maintaining the longevity of content that has the potential for a
long shelf-life. In an era where a good portion of media content is available
for on-demand engagement later, we have to think about how we support machines
that are much better at monetizing media products over time, thinking about
investments in content for which the ROI may come slowly but which may continue
on for years, if supported in the right way.
We see glimpses of this in how subscription services think
about investment in original content production’and I recommend everyone read
Amanda Lotz’s new treatise Portals as
a way to dig more deeply into these questions. But media businesses, and the
research teams that support them, have to think about how to recalibrate the
machines we’ve built over the last few decades to these new types of questions.
Where do you see
media research moving in 5 years?
I hope to see media researchers continue to make great
strides in helping organizations create meaningful media texts which
demonstrate an understanding of what audiences want and how audiences want to
engage them. I hope to see research and insights work, as a function, taken
increasingly serious by corporate decision-makers who need the expertise that
the best of the research & insights field have to offer.
In an era where so much remains up in the air about the
media industries, and where trust in media companies has been a topic of common
popular discussion, it’s up to media researchers to think about the role they
can play as catalysts for a discussion about how we build models that serve
content producers, media companies, advertisers, and audiences better than what
we have right now. If we don’t take advantage of the current liminal moment for
the television industry (See M.J. Robinson’s work on this in the forthcoming
book, Television
on Demand
), then I don’t know what will make us seriously tackle these
questions until models start falling apart.

Sam Ford is a media
executive, consultant, and research affiliate with MIT Comparative Media
Studies/Writing. He also teaches in the Popular Culture Studies Program at
Western Kentucky University. In 2015-2016, he founded and ran the
Univision/Fusion Media Group Center for Innovation and Engagement, as VP,
Innovation & Engagement, for Fusion. He is also co-author of the 2013 book, Spreadable
Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. More on his
work here.

Live from #TMRE13 Consumer Behavior & Consumption Across Media: The Digital State of Play

Remember the days when you put down your pen and paper, turned off the TV and enjoyed what you called “computer time”? Listening to that dial up internet static was something I looked forward to all day because it meant I got to explore and “play” on the computer. I’m sure you remember the AOL running man icon right? Classic.

Fast forward to 2013 and you’ll find that there is no such thing as “computer time” anymore, because computer time is ALL the time. Your phone is not just a phone anymore, its become your life – its your email, your calendar, your notebook and your entertainment. Everything you need in one small portable device and the world at your fingertips.
We are constantly connected and usually in several different ways. Have you ever found yourself walking through a store, shopping for groceries while talking to your mom on the phone while browsing your phone’s calendar to let her know if you are free for dinner tomorrow night? I have. 
According to Yahoo’s Tony Marlow in his presentation on Consumer Behavior & Consumption Across Media: The Digital State of Play, our brains are re-wiring themselves in order to help us navigate our digital lives, which is why younger people are significantly better at multi-tasking. This explains why my grandmother can’t seem to figure out what a “tweet” is or how to “tag” someone on Facebook. She wasn’t wired for this kind of activity.
I won’t hesitate to admit I would be LOST without my phone and I get anxious when I don’t have it right next to me. Makes me wonder how we ever functioned before cell phones and the internet. And I certainly don’t know how we ever survived without iPhone’s handy navigation!



Talia Short is Chief Wrangler at April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.

Introducing The Audience Measurement Event

Over 10 years ago, we identified an overwhelming need in the marketplace – to create a client-rich Market Research Event that focused on the business value of research. Today, The Market Research Event is the largest, most comprehensive research event in the world.

The research community voice is echoed once again, this time from those charged with media research. With fragmentation and the acceleration of digital, social and mobile, we’ve been asked to apply the same best practices to create this event. Introducing…

The Audience Measurement Event
May 21-23, 2012 | Chicago, IL
Register by this Friday, December 23rd & Save $400 off the standard rates!
Mention your exclusive Code: AMBLOG

The Audience Measurement Event is focused on the business value and actionability of understanding and translating consumer media consumption. The event features a robust agenda filled with real-world case-studies (from industry leaders including AT&T, Microsoft, Google, Procter & Gamble, Time Warner Cable, TiVO, Hearst Magazine, Turner Broadcasting and more! ) and new, never before seen content by visionary thinkers and future forward industry pioneers. The result is a more comprehensive view on creating your ideal media mix strategy. View the event preview now.

Keynotes include:

  • ‘ David Eagleman, Renowned Neuroscientist, Author, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
  • ‘ Deb Roy, Director, Cognitive Machines Group, MIT Media Labs, Co-Founder, Bluefin Labs
  • ‘ Kit Yarrow, Consumer Psychologist, Golden Gate University, Author, GenBuy
  • ‘ Michael Holmes, Director, Insight & Research, Ball State University Center for Media Design

Content Focus Areas:

  • ‘ Consumer Centric Approaches
  • ‘ Measurement & Advantage Analytics
  • ‘ Brand Engagement
  • ‘ Path to Purchase
  • ‘ Consumption & Multi-Tasking Patterns
  • ‘ Content vs. Monetization
  • ‘ Media Integration
  • ‘ Consumer Trends
  • ‘ The Future Media Landscape
  • ‘ Consumer Lifetime Value

We hope to see you among the most visionary thinkers, brand marketers and media powerhouses next May!

Decrease in Media Budgets

Advertising Age had this informative article about a study conducted by Advertising Perceptions, a market-research firm. According to the research study, media buyers are pessimistic about Broadcast TV, magazines, newspapers, radio, and outdoor, and have plans to decrease their advertising budgets for these mediums. Broadcast TV, and newspapers are the hardest hit, with 30% of the respondents citing a decrease in their expected spending over the next six months. On a positive note, online, cable TV, and mobile are not experiencing the same downturn. For online media spending, 72% of study participants are anticipating an increase in their spending, and for cable and mobile the percentages were 28% and 53% respectively. Audrey Siegel, a VP Director of Client Services for TargetCast, believes that, The decline indicates that marketers need their dollars to be flexible during times of economic uncertainty so they have the opportunity to pull back on spending if necessary. On a contradictory note, as reported in the NY Times in this article, Mr. Coen senior VP and forecasting director at Magna, is optimistic citing the Olympics, and the political campaign as a reason why advertising will not be as hard hit as the Advertising Age article suggests. Coen was quoted as saying, ‘It will get better in the second half of the year. I think the worst is over in terms of the slowdowns.’ In summary his belief is that while the economy has played a huge role in the hesitance of media buyers to spend their advertising budgets, the decrease may not be as noticeable while the Olympics, and Political campaign remain a hot topic in the media. His predictions also have him quoting that 2009 will be better than this year with advertising spending up 3.1%. It will be interesting to see which perception will prevail.

How Consumers Communicate Reviews of Products

As reported in this post from Church of the Customer Blog, BIGresearch conducted a study of close to 16,000 people regarding consumers use of online research to determine which products to buy. The results of the study, as shown below, indicate that adults who actively research online, are more likely to pass on the information that they have found.

Active Online Researcher All adults
Regularly gives advice 47.0% 29.4%
Occasionally gives advice 49.8% 63.4%
Never gives advice 3.2% 7.2%

Source: BIGresearch, SIMM 11 (December 2007) The study also reported findings that a majority of individuals, 72.7%, communicated their findings face-to-face. Still many others, 63.2%, passed on information via e-mail, where as 11.8% talked using online communities, and 6.8% used blogging as a medium. These findings indicate that while forums, such as blogging and online communities are starting to become more and more relevant, especially in terms of research about products, a majority of individuals still see an importance in discussing product reviews in person. Brad Fay, study co-author of a Keller Fay study, which concurred with BIGresearch that 75% of individuals communicate product reviews face-to-face stated: “Apparently, the value of eye contact, voice and perhaps even non-verbal communication provides a boost to credibility and the likelihood that we’ll do something about what we’ve learned.”

The Teen Shopping Experience

An important factor to business success is how effective your communication is with your customers, and potential customers. The main point from this article on Customers Rock is that teens may very well be using other forms of media rather than the company website to learn about new products. This survey (conducted by Bizreport) tells us that most teens do their purchasing in stores, but where do they find out about all these cool new products. That’s right ladies and gentleman, the World Wide Web. This blogger’s son actually had a tough time viewing the iPod Touch demo on the company site, and that’s when he turned to YouTube instead. Marketers must first find out where teens are doing their research for products. Then they must assess whether the company website has easily accessible demos and videos, or if they should put together a YouTube video about the product in order to reach customers. What about existing customers? Well, a simple email campaign letting the customers know about their new products would make any teen feel special. The way in which we reach teens is constantly changing. The simple truth here is that teens are finding information for products on the net, so we must learn to adapt to these changing times in order to effectively communicate on their level.