Understanding Television Audiences.

Topics: Audience measurement, Television, Broadcasting Pages: 10 (2836 words) Published: April 21, 2013

Understanding television audiences
Andrew Green Warc Best Practice September 2011



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Understanding television audiences Andrew Green Warc Best Practice September 2011

Understanding Television Audiences
Andrew Green Ipsos MediaCT


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY According to ZenithOptimedia's July 2011 advertising expenditure forecasts1, television is the dominant mass medium in the minds of major marketers and consumers. More than $189 billion will be spent on TV advertising in 2011, representing a 41% share of major media adspend globally. Ten years ago, in 2001 – with internet advertising still in its infancy – the medium's share stood at 38%. Television therefore remains, for many marketers, the primary communications channel when launching a new brand or supporting an existing one. It offers impact through sound, pictures and motion, the ability to reach lots of people quickly, and 'talkability'. This talkability, often referred to as the 'water cooler' effect (the water cooler being, legend has it, where people would stand around discussing the previous night's television programmes) has been enhanced by the growth of on-line social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.

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ESSENTIALS: The Power of Television Advertising Television plays to many strengths as an advertising medium. These include: l l l l l

Impact through audio-visual images and movement High and fast-building coverage of all target groups Traditional competitive battlefield for brands Talkability Interactivity

WHERE TO START: Measuring television audiences Research into the television audience includes measurement of: l l

Audience size, composition, flow and duration Audience interaction – how viewers react to programmes and advertising (e.g. fast forwarding of programmes played back on DVRs and ad avoidance) The impact of programme and advertising context on receptivity to advertising Talkability – the extent and duration of viewers' on- and off-line conversations during and after a programme or ad has aired

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TV audience measurement (TAM) Since the early 1990s, most television markets have been measured electronically using people meters, which replaced the earlier system of paper diaries. By mid-2011, around 75 countries worldwide used electronic measurement of one sort or another. Peoplemeters are household-based devices, automatically detecting whether sets are on or off and identifying the channels to which they are tuned. People in sample households press buttons to indicate when they are present in a room with the set on. As measurement devices, they suffer from several key weaknesses: l l

They cannot account for viewing that takes place out of the home They indicate the presence of a viewer, but not his or her attention to the screen Meters will not accurately represent the viewing of those who fail to press their buttons2


The first and last of these have prompted much work into devices that attempt to measure individual (rather than household) viewing with minimal intervention from the respondent. The Portable People Meter (PPM) was developed in the early 1990s and first tested by Arbitron as a radio measurement device in Manchester (UK) in 1998 and then in Philadelphia in the United States shortly afterwards3. It is based on embedding an inaudible code into the audio part of a broadcast stream. This is then detected by a panel of people carrying special pager-like devices whenever they are within earshot of the signal. PPMs were first used to track

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television audiences in 2003 in the Canadian province of Quebec4,5. Respondents do not have to remember to press buttons when they enter and leave a room and, of course,...
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