Published on March 4, 2014
How we define an audience. By Jonah Adshead
Types of Research- Quantitative. Quantitative research is concerned with numbers and values that can be quantified or measured. This type of research allows you to get a sense of the size of your audience. Two organisations doing this in the United Kingdom are the National Readership Survey (NRS) and the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). The NRS provide estimates on readership and circulation figures for the print based media industry and create socioeconomic breakdowns of audiences. The ABC produce figures on audience numbers much like the NRS does, but for both the print and digital industries. Some ways to gain qualitative data are through questionnaires or interviews asking closed questions, ratings, and tick box questions. Having lots of quantitative data about your audience is very useful. Quantitative data is easy to analyse and convert into percentages, fractions, put into charts and graphs etc. Because Quantitative data is so easy to formatitis very quick and simpleto compare to other bits of data.
Types of Research- Qualitative Qualitative research goes into much more depth than qualitative research does and is used to show the opinions and values of an audience. Whereas quantitative data merely gives values, qualitative data gives the reason behind these values. Because qualitative data goes into much more detail it is presented as full text , rather than short values and numbers, this means it often takes longer to analyse. This time issue is usually suffered because of the greater knowledge you can gain on your audience. Research seeking out qualitative data usually consists of interviews, group discussions or questionnaires asking questions like “why do you enjoy reading?”. These research methods are designed to allow the audience to open up more in their answer and reveal their opinions and reasons behind their preferences. Qualitative data is very useful as it allows a company to get an insight into the reasons behind the statistics that quantitative data gives. When used together these two research methods are very helpful when trying to define your audience.
Socio-economic Status and NRS Social Grades. Socio-economic status is the way an individual or family’s social and economic position in society is measured, in relation to the others around them. It is based on the income, education and occupation of an individual or them and the people in their family. A person is placed into one of three categories in order to rate their socio-economic status, some organisations have split the standard three categories into more, he NRS for example use six to define readers of magazines and newspapers. The six social grades designed by the NRS are now used by many organisations and have become the standard for market research. The grades are based on occupation with the theory that an individuals occupation will reflect their income and level of education. The social grade of a household is decided upon the head of the house, this is a method that has been found to work quite well and be accurate at measuring social grade. It is important for a publisher to have an idea of the socio-economic status of their readership, as it can help them make the right decisions on a number of things. The content of a magazine will be effected by the socio-economic status of its audience, for example a lower class individual may not be interested in the same things as a higher class one. It is also useful to show other companies who potentially would like to purchase advertising space from your publication. A high end watch maker or jewelers will not want to buy advertising space in a magazine with a low socio-economically rated readership because a very small amount will be able to afford their products. If a company knows the socio-economic status of their readers they can target specific advertisers they know will be interested.
Lifestyle or psychographics. Psychographics is the study of personality, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles. It was developed by Grey Advertising company in the 1960’s when they were trying to find a better way to understand their audience. This information can be gathered through a questionnaire and then used to put the individual into one of seven categories that each describe a different kind of person. The idea of catagorising your audience in this way is that if you can understand the type of person your audience is, it will be easier to keep them happy.
Postcode or Geodemographics This is a method that uses demographic information gained from the national census to group people together according to where they live. The theory behind this kind of audience defining is that people who live in the same areas or same kind of neighborhoods will have similar lifestyles and spending tendencies. If a company is able to identify the likely spending habits of large areas then they can easily target areas to place advertisements in to get the best exposure to their target audience. This data can tell us where the wealthy people live and where the less well off people live, so if your company sells very expensive products you will target a more affluent area with your advertisement. This data can also tell you if there is a large population of pensioners, students or if the majority of people living there are middle aged full time employed. This information can be useful to know because pensioners and students usually have a very large amount of disposable income whereas full time employed individuals have less money they can just spend. This type of research is most useful to companies that use direct mail rather than mass media producers. This is because mass media producers try to target huge amounts of people all over a country rather than a few people living in one place so information on isolated groups isn’t useful.
Age When classifying audiences age is hugely important. People of similar ages often have very similar interests, this is because people of the same sort of age usually spend time with other individuals of a similar age and so will share their interests together. The spending habits of people of the same age often seem to be around the same as they are often at similar stages in their lives. For example 15 year olds may be starting to get part time jobs so getting a small amount of disposable income and the majority 30 year olds will be working but may have their first house or even first child so will not have much disposable income. Media producers usually target a specific age range an this helps them decide on content, price and a number of other things that effect the production of their publication.
Gender Gender is a simple way to classify your audience and working out the gender split of your readership can be very useful. Males and female generally are interested in different things and so working out what gender the majority of your audience is can allow you to make your product more desirable and appealing to them. If you have quite an even gender split you till have to make sure you keep catering for the needs of both genders or make a decision to start aiming more for a single gender. This may however push away some readers from the gender you are not targeting. One product that is very heavily gender targeted would be a games console such as the Xbox 1. Although there are games targeted at females the console itself and the majority of the games made for it target a male audience. It is important to know the majority gender of your audience so that you can make sure your product suits them.
Mainstream or Niche Audiences can be profiled according to whether they are deemed mainstream or niche. Products aimed at the mainstream will be looking to target a large amount of people and cater a large amount of people. Chart music or blockbuster films are both examples of things targeting the mainstream, they will be seen or heard by the majority of people and a lot of people will be aware of them. Niche audiences are a lot smaller and a lot more specific, some media producers target niche audiences in the hope that they will capture a lot of it and so gain a good amount of followers. An example of a publication targeting a niche audience could be something like a model replica magazine, not many people are interested in model making but a large amount of the people who are, if not all of them will want to buy this magazine. It is useful to identify your audience as mainstream or niche so you can decide whether to include very specific content that will only interest a certain group of people or if you want to include things that will interest a large mainstream audience.
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