Task 9 – Other forms of research

Experiments

Whilst experiments can offer a detailed insight into how humans behave under certain situations (e.g. how young people react to sexual content in the media), a lot of care must be applied to each factor of the experiment. You must ensure that the way in which the information is organised, measured and presented must be exact, otherwise the experiment becomes pointless. As a level of detail is required, experiments can also be very time-consuming. To ensure the best results, you may also require a ‘control group’: a group of subjects who, unlike the group your experimenting with, are kept external to the experiment so that they aren’t affected by the independent variable (e.g. the choice of different types of sexual media content which you show to the experiment group). Despite already being rather time-costly, experiments are needed to be repeated in order to achieve concrete results, otherwise, you’re acting off the assumptions of one experiment without any previous results to judge its validity.

One-to-one interviews

During a one-to-one interview, you can record the interviewee’s answers so that you have a clear source to go back to and clarify. It is also lilely that your interviewee has been selected because they are an expert or suite the particular group your researching into, e.g. teenagers aged 15-18. However, one-to-one interviews are limited to one perspective, therefore, if you required a substantial number of interviewees, in order to achieve diverse results, one-to-one interviews would also be a very time-consuming research method.

Surveys/questionnares

Phsyical surveys are able to reach a wide demographic of people, particularly if they are sent via the post. Usually, they are quite easy to fill out and not very time consuming. However, it is costly to publish the surveys and then send them out with free post return. It can also take a lot of time, depending on the amount of completed surveys, to sort and process the information pyshically. This whole process is very difficult without a team behind it.

Social Media

Social media offers a much less costly, much less time-consuming alternative to physical surveys. An individual can design a quick questionnaire using software or certain survey sites, post it on thier social media pages and recieve results within minutes. The information is also recorded digitally and so, therefore, you can easily translate the results into graphs and statistic charts. However, as completing surveys online is more effortless and anonymous, some people will provide exagerrated or false information simply because they don’t take it seriously. Some methods of social media research are also quit intrusive, for example, Behavioral Data uses the cookies embedded within users’ browsers to manipulate the content of page-side adverts on websites, tailoured to what is percived as the user’s interests.

Documentary
Documentaries can often provide very detailed insights into particular subjects, often exposing information that can only be discovered after a thorough investigation or intimate interview. All of the footage can provide great sources to refer back to when consolidating your results. As the information is all recorded ‘on a whim’, documentaries provide concrete evidence towards your research. However, many documentaries, depending on the genre, follow the political stance and opinions of the presenter or filmmakers, a prime example being John Pilger, who purposefully makes documentaries with a left wing perspective. By presenting an issue subjectively, a researcher may have to source out another piece of information as their counter argument, in order to keep the research objective. As the documentary has been created with a particular purpose and time limit, it is likely that it will not cover all of the aspects of the subject you are researching.

Historical research
Historical research is similar in use to that of documentaries. Historical literature, whilst often written by experienced historians or academics, can provide an extremely detailed historical account of a particular subject and so a fantastic source of research. Historical photos and films can also provide concrete evidence towards an investigation. However, like with documentaries, historical literature can be very much influenced by the stance of the historian, for example: Revisionist, Orthodox, ect. Whilst these historians can provide provable facts as evidence for their arguments, you are still consuming their interpretation of events and factors.

Participant observation
Participant observation involves a researcher immersing themselves within a cultural group over a considerable amount of time in order to better understand the community and its cultural practices. For example, a number of participant observations have occurred amongst indigenous tribes in Africa and Southern America. Whilst this method of research can provide one of the most in-depth ways of analysing cultures and their social relationships, the very presence of the researcher(s) may prevent the group from acting as normal and, thus, distort the results. Participant observation would also require the consent of every member of the group who is to be analysed and a long investigation, perhaps spanning over 3 months, would be quite costly and time consuming.

Comparative analysis
Comparative analysis involves identifying and analysing similarities and differences between societies and cultures, usually between different countries. The major problem with this research method is that it requires cross-national cooperation, managing and funding. This would prove particularly difficult across continents, for example, a comparative analysis project between Germany and China. Social and political barriers may cause problems with cooperation. One country may also define certain categories differently to the other country, such as how they define urban and rural citizens. Nevertheless, once these obstacles have been considered, comparative analysis can truly provide a better understanding of the cultural differences between countries and regions.

AB testing
AB testing can entail surveys whereby yes/no questions are asked as well as when two versions of an object (e.g. a poster design) are asked to be compared by the user. These two simple purposes can provide quick and easily-processable means of collecting opinions on a matter or object. AB testing can also be used for as the format for internet surveys which is essential for users only willing to give a minute to answering simple questions. However, as largely a yes/no format, there is no space for depth in the answers which affects the overall quality of the research and limits the subject matter, for example, you couldn’t easily measure individual reasons why people enjoy artwork using AB testing because there would be a large range of opinions.

Secondary research
Secondary research involves using research that has been collected in the past by someone else towards your investigation, instead of researching the matter yourself, which is classed as primary research. Whilst using secondary research is both very cost and time effective (except when actually searching for the research itself) the reliability of the group responsible for collecting the research must be taken into account. Just like with documentary and historical research, the observer’s stance must be recognised to see if their findings are too subjective. A trusted organisation is more likely to achieve more reliable research results than that of an individual student. The other disadvantage of secondary research is that it is always slightly out of date. Whereas primary research is current with your investigation, the secondary research you find may have been collected a year or more beforehand. For example, the percentage of male students within a school will probably have changed by the following year.

Task 8 – Using Questionnaires

The BAD QUESTIONNAIRE example found in the x-drive is littered with flaws. Firstly, the subject is asked to provide their name as the answer to the first question. Although some questionnaires do require a name, it is pointless to include this as the first question as names won’t convey much information that will be of use to the final results, particularly one concerning audience research. Whilst most of the questions aren’t worded well, the second and third only list Music, Games and Film as media forms without even providing the “other” option. You could also argue that question 4 doesn’t serve much use as it asks the participant where do they store their downloads. Downloads already implies digital storage, so most people would say they use their computers, any other storage device wouldn’t say much about audiences anyway.

Questions 5 & 6 are awkward questions to answer as they request that you expose your illegal download activities. This is even more incriminating as the questionnaire asks you to give your name. Question 7 then asks if the participant feels guilty about downloading material without paying for it. Firstly, the question is wrong to assume that all participants illegally download material. Secondly, the fact that a participant feels guilty is probably not very useable information for an audience research investigation. Question 8 asks the participant to supply the names of music streaming sites it uses, however, it only applies writing space for one site, whereas a participant may have numerous sites to mention.

The GOOD QUESTIONNAIRE is a whole class above the bad questionnaire. Firstly, it introduces the questionnaire with a short paragraph which explains how one should go about answering the questionnaire. It then finishes the paragraph with a kind “thank you”. Even the questionnaire’s title is a massive improvement. Whilst the bad questionnaire vaguely called itself an audience research questionnaire, the second identifies itself clearly as a Television Household questionnaire. The manner in which the questionnaire is written feels very warm and clear so that the participant is encouraged and can easily understand each question. Unlike the previous questionnaire, it also supplies sufficient space for answering questions. The spaces in which to answer also differ depending on the nature of the question, for example, one question may ask for the number of particular items to be given, whilst other more closed questions use simple Yes/No tick boxes.

For participants who haven’t got much time to spare, the questionnaire allows them to skip to certain questions if they have answered “No” previously. When the questions move onto a new subject, this is marked clearing in the question, for example, “Next we’d like to ask about some leisure or recreational activities…”. For the questions where spaces are given to answer, the questionnaire also provides answer alternatives for those who don’t “spend any time on these activities.” In order to get the best answers, the questions are very detailed and often have key elements underlined, for example, “In the past seven days, approximately how much time per day would you say you spent reading…”

On pages 4 – 7, the use and interaction with tables and coloured icons makes the questionnaire more engaging than one simply with questions and options. The number of pages used (17) allows a large number of subjects to be covered so that the surveyors gain very detailed knowledge about TV watching patterns in American homes. After question 37, the survey takes 2 pages to ask for opinions on participating in research activities such as surveys. These answers will provide feedback that will influence the surveyor’s next survey and how they interact with potential participants. The next 2 pages identify the participant as a member of the Nielsen People Meter Panel and so asks for feedback on that experience, perhaps as a competitor or allied company.

Finally, the last 5 pages feature questions which aim to provide statistics about certain households, whilst keeping personal information completely confidential These will give the surveyor an even clearer idea of the target focus group as well as the members of the Nielsen People Meter Panel. The final question gives a number of options for annual income, showing that the survey is open to participants of varied financial backgrounds. The survey ends with a sufficient comments/recommendations section which allows participants to give any feedback that could improver the surveyor’s next questionnaire. The survey ends with a final thank you as well as a reminder to return the questionnaire within 3 weeks. This is a clear instruction and it also shows how the surveyor is wanting the participants to take as much time as they need to answer this hefty 17 page questionnaire.

Task 7 – Easy Living content analysis

During this session, me and Tom were given a 2011 edition of Easy Living to analyse how ‘fair’ the magazine represented ethnicities. We started a tally chart and scanned the entire magazine, noting the number of Caucasians and non-Caucasians. After completing the magazine, we found that there were 89 Caucasians, and only 2 mixed-race and 1 Latino. We immediately deducted from this, as well as the overall content of the magazine, that Easy Living is aimed at white middle class women.

We then had the idea of comparing the demographics of the magazine to the total demographics of the UK. In 2011, White British people consisted 87.1% of the population whilst the other categories accumulated as 12.9%. In comparison to the issue of Easy Living, which was also published in 2011, White people consisted of 96.7% of the magazine whilst the other categories only made up 3.3%. We deduced from this that the magazine was very unrepresentative of the total population. However, we understood that the magazine has never been aimed at the whole population but rather it appeals to middle class women. Nevertheless, the issue’s demographics doesn’t take into account the number of black, Asian or mixed race women who see themselves as middle class.

To improve our investigation, we would have had to analyse a number of Easy Living issues, over perhaps 6 months, in order to measure how consistently this failed to represent their entire readership. Then again, we would also need to find out what percentage of the middle class constitutes black, Asian and mixed race women in order to measure how ‘fairly’ Easy Living is representing ethnicities. Then again, it is difficult to apply the word fair to anything because it always involves someone’s opinion of what is fair. For example, the editor of Easy Living may not see the relative exclusion of other ethnicities as unfair but rather as continuing its appeal to its main readership. Everyone has a different opinion of what is fair just like everyone has a different opinion on what is justice. Fairness could also involve the scale of an image of white people throughout the magazine, compared to those of other ethnicities. For example, two out of the three other non-white women featured in the Easy Living issue were only featured within images filling a quarter of the page whilst most of the white women featured got almost a page dedicated to their face.

The word ‘fair’ is also vague in itself as it does not necessarily involve how other ethnicities are represented but rather, in what quantity are other ethnicities represented and does that quantity coincide with national statistics? Although the magazine is in full control of what it does/doesn’t publish, many of the women we tallied were in adverts, made by external companies to the magazine, which makes it harder to blame the magazine for misrepresentation. Nevertheless, it could still spawn a debate on the representation of ethnicities within advertising.

Task 6 – Creating and using focus groups

For this task, the class was split into two groups, based on which row you were sat in. Certain members of the class volunteered as invigilators  and were convened at the front to discuss the task. Chike and Jasmin J. came to our group, with Chike leading the focus task whilst Jasmin made notes of our responses. The subject chosen for the task was the highly controversial, explicit version of the music video for Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. The whole group watched most of the video, which contained completely topless women, sharing most of the screen time, amongst fully dressed men. Once we had finished, Chike went around each member of the group and asked for their individual reaction to the video. He then went into more depth by asking if we were surprised when we first saw the video and how we came across it. These questions generated a mixture of response. Whilst some were very offended, others were not so shocked by its content, being used to the controversial imagery found on the internet, but still felt that it objectified women.

The questions eventually broke down into a general debate/discussion about the video as well as other objectifying videos. Chike brought the discussion to an end so that Jasmin could read out the 3 questions and collect a final tally using the basic hands-up method. Once that was completed, Jasmin read the results back to us, as well as what share of the group was male and female and how that gender-share was reflected in the answers. The group then finally dissolved.

How are focus groups used in the media industry?

Whilst they are still undergoing post-production, major films are often given test screenings to a small audience, perhaps within a small auditorium or secluded venue. The most influential type of test screening are Focus Group screenings where the audience is expected to provide detailed responses to the previewed film so that the filmmakers understand whether they need to re-edit or even re-shoot certain sequences. The response from the Audience, which is usually comprised of a carefully selected target group, is usually collected using surveys or group discussions. A very recent example of the use of test screenings involves The Dark Knight Rises, which required an audio re-edit after test audiences found it hard to understand the film’s central villain, Bane.
I believe that focus groups are an effective means of receiving detailed responses in relation to a film or media product. Surveys and recorded discussions allow companies to understand how they need to improve their product and to further understand their potential consumers.  However, the setting up and organisation of focus groups can take considerable effort, particularly as the members of the focus group must be hand-picked in order to reflect the product’s target audience. The response from this small focus group is often then extended to the rest of the population. Some focus group sessions also require a budget, as some test screenings, for example, record the results with specialist data equipment whilst using free food to entice volunteers. In brief, focus groups are much less time and cost effective than other means of research, such as Social Media.

Task 5 – Using social media for research

What do you think of the techniques described above?
The methods described above expose the subtle genius behind social media research, as these techniques are both cost-effective and provide instant, detailed feedback. However, the use of Social Network Profile Data and Behavioral can be easily seen as intrusive, particularly as the Social Networks which ask permission for Profile data often don’t mention how the information will be used. The internet trickery of behavioral data is also covered by networks giving ‘cookie warnings’ on certain sites, however, most internet users don’t understand what ‘cookies’ are. Nevertheless, having advertisements tailored to, what your internet history suggests are, your personal interests is both advantageous for the consumer and Advertiser, for example, an independent filmmaker would prefer to see adverts about film-related products than adverts about diet plans.

What are the advantages of using social media for research?
The dawn of social media advertising research has given companies, from huge conglomerates to smaller independents, numerous ways in which they can learn all about their potential customers. On social networking sites, particularly Twitter, #trending topics can provide a monitor on how well a product’s been received across the web, why it’s been received this way and where it’s being received the most. This can encourage the company to make changes to the product, encourage changes to the current campaign or influence future campaigns. A company may even locate a new target audience by using other sites to measure success.

Facebook pages can work as forums where a community of subscribed fans can respond to advertisements and promos posted straight onto the page. Within seconds, the company can get an understanding of the posts success, particularly as they now mention how many people each post has reached. The amount of people who like the page gives an estimate as to how many people the company are reaching in general.

An essential benefit of social media research is that its “a fraction of the cost of conventional market research”, according to Sean Hargrave. This has allowed much smaller, independent companies to make use of what social media research has to offer. The traditional alternative was to send out questionaries by post which would take a while to produce and process. Sending, receiving and processing collected information is quite effortless in the digital age of mass storage filing systems.

Are there any problems with the article itself?
As all publications do, this article has aged since it was written in 2010. This means that over the last 3 years, social media research has probably advanced even further, creating new research methods which, of course, don’t appear in the article and perhaps may now be prioritised over some of the techniques mentioned. You could also argue that its wrong of the writer to not mention any of the negatives of social media research, particularly the more obtrusive ones.

Another example of social media research

John Lewis, the department store chain, uses its Facebook page largely to promote its own products and interact with its followers. It has been noted that John Lewis often answers questions posted by users and the John Lewis social networking team usually identifies themselves by name when addressing a user question or comment. Sometimes John Lewis launches Facebook campaigns, a prime example being when fans were asked to post their old sport kits in return for a suggestion by John Lewis for an in-store alternative. The facebook page is also used to collect user feedback about its official website.

Task 4 – Media research companies

Nielsen – Practices & Measurement
Nielsen sets itself out to help media companies by offering Marketing aid and research services. The practises offered by Nielsen mostly involve helping companies to manage and market their products most effectively. This is supported with information on the structure of the Market in which a company hopes to promote its product, as well as Social Media intelligence, which analyses the opinions expressed by potential consumers on social media sites. For example, Nielsen’s key practice, Advertising Effectiveness, involve Nielsen measuring advertising effectiveness across numerous media technologies, such as TV and internet. These measurements are intended to give a company clear results as to how well their advertising campaign is performing and why. Nielsen then calculates certain solutions through particular research, such as: determining which audience groups are seeing the adverts, comparing the add effectiveness between the company’s competitors, improving the marketing strategy and measuring how memorable an advert or brand is by analysing purchase figures.
Nielsen even goes as far as Consumer Neuroscience, research which involves the study of how the human brain and nervous system affect a consumer’s subconscious response to brands, products and advertising. Nielsen, which claims to have expertise in consumer neuroscience,  analyses the brainwave activity of volunteers and uses their brain-wave movements as well as eye-tracking to record individual reactions to specific aspects of an advert, brand or product. The information gathered is given to clients in marketing and advertising to help them determine the success of their products and advertisements.

Nielsen, as a very successful and lucrative company, is evidence of the utter importance of advertising research for media companies. So much detail is put into researching and measuring the responses, both psychically and mentally, of potential customers and their receptions of marketing so that Advertisers can make quick and effective changes which will thus, help to improve a product’s potential sale. Without the research gathered by companies like Nielsen, advertisers would realise the success of their marketing campaigns without knowing the reasons why for that success or lack of success. The information learnt, in regards to success, whilst allowing the advertisers to make immediate changes, would also affect that company’s marketing campaigns in the future, as they’ll know what to and what not to include in the future. There are also no prices to be found on the website. This is likely because clients are encouraged to use the client log in. This itself suggests that the prices themselves are quite large and so necessarily have been kept unavailable for purchase by an individual on the internet.

TASK 3 – audience research

1. What would a media company like to find out about its audience?
Audience research is treated as an essential objective for the media research industry because all media products and created with a particular audience in mind. For media companies, discovering who exactly this audience is will both ensure that their product reaches the audience who will most likely want to buy their product, and therefore, bring in the most profits. As a result, a lot of time and money is often spent to find out their basic target audience. Research, often in the form of questionnaires and focus groups, is also used to understand how audiences interact with other media products and what audiences expect of certain media products, depending on genre. Despite the importance of audience research, the final target audience identified will always be a generalised grouping of certain people and, as a result, will never provide concrete evidence to reinforce the way in which advertisers target their audiences. This still applies even if the research includes demographics and psychographics.

2. How are audiences defined?

To identify the basics of their target audience, media companies class audiences using certain categories known as demographics. The main categories include: age, gender, race, income status and location. Marital status and number of children can also sometimes be included. Media producers also tend to describe audiences using specific letter codes based on income:
Screen shot 2014-02-05 at 8.30.25 PM
Once a media company understands these categories and audience descriptions, they can tailor their product to their potential audience. For example, certain TV programmes are tailored to ABC1 adults because they are believed to have a particular amount of education and generally consist the middle and upper classes, the middle class also being the largest social class in Britain.

Despite the basic usefulness of demographics, they are often regarded as too ambiguous to make target audience deductions from. For example, a group of adults in their 60s who live in the same borough are still bound to have different purchasing preferences from each other. As a result, media producers use psychographics to achieve more detailed definitions of their target audience. Psychographics work by dividing the population into groups based on personality, lifestyle, beliefs, social interests, habits and social class. If the media company is involved in marketing, then shopping orientations (such as how price sensitive a person is) are also taken into account. Below are the main psychographic categories used in the UK and US:
Audience Psychographics

Whilst demographics are very useful for a media product that can appeal to a wide audience, such as action thriller movies. However, for smaller, niche audiences groups, the detail of psychographics is required. For example programmes aimed at ‘Explorers’ will most likely not appeal to those who are ‘Resigned’, no matter what age, gender or race they are, although these demographics will affect who is an ‘Explorer’ or who is ‘Resigned’, to some extent.

3. Examples of TV audiences
Within Thinkbox’s Men 55+ audience description, the demographics of course concentrate on age (55+) and gender (male). However, the psychographics used are only spawned once the description assumes that most men over the age of 55 are retired. This factor refers to lifestyle as the group are expected to have more free time and so their media consumption reflects more of there special interests. Their interest in social issues is represented by their “high proportion of news content”. Entertainment programming and shared viewing experiences are identified as classic psychographic traits of this audience group.

I find thinkbox’s description is too generalised and too limited by the retirement factor, particularly as the state pension age is between 61 and 68. I know a member of this audience group who is in his mid 60s but still isn’t retired and still leads a very busy life. As a result, he gets very little time to watch programs which are of special interest to him and so usually settles for action films or TV dramas for ensured entertainment and relaxation. Although he does watch a lot of news content when he can, he never watches Soaps, chat shows, game shows or gardening shows and he doesn’t enjoy sport. Although the description is generalised for the sake of 8.2 million men, it doesn’t take into account the massive diversity and differences in demographics that would be found in such a group that has lived for over 5 decades.

Advertising figures

When looking at ITV’s average advertising spot cost table, the huge expense of advertising is very apparent, for example, it would cost an advertiser approximately £60,390 to screen a 30 second advert during an evening (21.30) broadcast of a movie or drama in all of the 12 broadcast regions in Britain. The price is highest for this slot because ITV expects to receive the most viewers at this time of night and for this type of content. This can also be applied to Coronation at the 19.30 slot because it is known to attract large viewing figures. As a result, the higher the potential viewing figures, the higher the advertising price, a price advertisers are willing to pay in order to get their product across to as many people as possible.

Prices of £60,000 a day may be affordable for a large corporation, however smaller companies may only be able to afford advertising for certain regions at certain times of the day. For example, an advert shown in the Border area between England and Scotland would only cost £50 for the 11am slot. This is due to the fact that this time of day has the fewest viewers and the Border area is sparsley populated. London, on the other hand, as the most densley populated area in the UK, has the highest advertising costs. The 11am slot for London costs £1,690 whilst the 21.30 slot costs £13,270. As well as the population size, the price is influenced by the fact that London is also the wealthiest area in the country and so, the more expensive products and brands are more likely to be purchased and so are more willing to be advertised there. Intrigingly, Central London is listed as its own region. This may be due to its sheer population density as the well as the fact that a lot of London’s wealth is concentraded in its centre. As a result, the most expensive advertising slot in this region, is the 21.30 movie or drama slot with a £16,540 advertising slot.

4a) According to BARB, Coronation Street recieves of 8 million viewers each evening it broadcast throughout the week, where as a single film, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, recieved over 4.5 million viewers and the News at 18.44 mid-week over 4.3 million viewers. This is reflected in ITV’s spot cost list where the advertising slots where the evening news slot, which generally pulls viewer viewings, is cheaper than the other three slots. However, although the Harry Potter film pulled half the viewers that Coronation Street did, it still has the most expensive advertising slot. This may be due to the fact that the number of viewers for films and dramas are, whilst generally high, more unpredictable where as Coronation Street has a large, loyal audience. This slot has to be cheaper (£51,320) because not all programmes that fill this slot, when Coronation Street isn’t on, will pull in the same viewing figures.

4b) As the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board, BARB is responsible for collecting the official viewing figures for television audiences all over the UK. It does so by commissioning 3 specialist research companies: Ipsos Mori, RSMB and Kanter Media. The latter provideds special metering equipment into over 5,100 homes, each one representing 5,000 homes, which have agreed to participate in the BARB panel. These devices also monitor the viewing of recorded programmes. The metering equipment works by registering the prescensce of someone, as young as 4, in a TV room as a television set being turned on. The television set is registered as turned off once they have left the room. The information gathered is then enlarged so as to Every morning, between 2am and 6am, the information from each device is automatically uploaded to BARB. At 9.30am the same day, the TV industry recieves the data as overnight viewing figures.

BARB is a crucial asset to broadcasters and advertisers because the immensley detailed viewing figures allows them to realise the success of their programmes, channels or advertising campaigns. It is this information which influences the costs for advertising slots which ITV display on their table.

5. – measure the success of a programme – important of cast & crew
– advertising slots – big names won’t pay for unsuccessful programmes
– looks bad for channel as a whole
– best channels + slots to advertise
– BBC – is it serving the public – mission statement?
– re-commissioned?

Audience research is seen as absolutely vital in the media industry, the TV industry being the best examples. Audience figures, first and foremost, are used to assess the success of a programme. It is very important for all of the cast, crew and producers that their show is well recived because if audience figures are low, the show could face being taken off air and all the hard work and money put into it will have gone to nothing. For a moderatley successful programme, a Drama in particular, viewing figures will help determine whether a second series is commissioned. Poor ratings generally look bad on a channel as they may gain a reputation for producing low quality content.  As a publicly funded broadcaster, the BBC has a particular responsiblity to respond to viewing figures in order to create a variation of programmes that cater to the public needs.

Audience research is also crucial, financially. As previously mentioned, its the viewing figures provided by BARB which influence ITV’s, and all other channels for that matter, advertising spot cost list. A broadcaster must understand how many viewers it attracts at certain parts of the day, in certain regions, to get as much money from advertising companies as possible, which is important for all commercial channels, apart from the BBC. If a programme, or a channel in general, begins to suffer poor viewing rates, big brands would not be willing to keep paying out, for example, £60,000 a day to advertise to small numbers of people.

Task 3 notes

Audience – what does the media want to know
Demographics – facts
Psychographics – IAO’s – personality, tastes, activities
AI – Audience Appreciation Index

Used to find out the level of apprreciation by viewers for programmes. If a television programme has not performed brilliantly in the ratings, but achieves a high AI, it can help to decide whether it should be recommissioned.

Doctor Who (last series) AI:
– The Eleventh Hour 86%
– The Beast Below 86%
– Victory of the Daleks 84%

AI + effectiveness
Means of media consumption
How media is consumed – very important – advertising
when, where, who with

What are the problems with segmenting an audience by class?

Demographic profiling involves filtering or identifying people by factors

Psychographic profiling – defines the audience by interests, attitudes and opinions (IAOs) and also lifestlye
– marketers claim to better understand customers and “how they think”
– are they a technology early adaptor?
– do they like to work with their hands?
– Do they view themselves as a “trendsetter”?

2 views of the same person:
– demographics – female, age 31, single, C1, atheist, heterosexual, post graduate degree educated

– psychographics – early adopter of technology, doesn’t see herself as a trensetter, doesn’t like manual work, likes art, culture, travel

Demographics – marketing
Psychographics – when making a media product

Task 2 – Financial reseasrch in the film industry

The importance of financial research in the film industry
Financial research is essential for the production of a film, particularly one intended for the mainstream market. So much money is often invested to fuel these projects that a detailed budget plan must first be developed. This will also ensure that the right fraction of money is designated to each field of production and that each field’s individual budget is proportionate to the rest. The budget provides a framework that, whilst susceptible to change, influences every stage of production. For example, if the film relies on special effects or a specific star, the overall budget of the film will be structured in proportion to the film’s key financial requirement.

The production budget doesn’t include the money required to cover the exhibition and distribution costs, which, in the mainstream market, often match the overall costs of production. Nevertheless, the production budget is still dealt with in two parts. The first part includes the “above the line” costs which involves the key prices that set the overall tone of the budget, and therefore, the overall tone of the film. These key costs are the fees of the leading stars, the director, the writer, and producer. The stars’ salaries are usually proportionate with one another whilst the Director is given a similar percentage to the writer and producer.

The second part of the budget, the “below the line” costs, affect the other cast members, sets, costumes, equipment, rentals, permits, catering and any other expenses. It also affects the postproduction processes of editing, sound, special effects and title sequences. These costs are often unaffected by the production’s star power, however, blockbusters require each of these fields to have very high budgets to fulfill the increasing audience demand for bigger spectacles. To give an idea of the detail required in each field of the budget, each piece of equipment, prop or mass storage device must be budgeted and receipted.

During the budgeting process, which lasts from the very inception to the final edit of the project, obstacles can easily appear which require changes to the budget. For example, an actor may pass away or become seriously ill, requiring a quick replacement or special effects alternatives to hide their absence, a prime example of this being Oliver Reed’s death during the production of Gladiator. Certain locations may also become unavailable or CGI alternatives may suddenly be opted for instead of  physical sets/props. However, the initial budgeting plans always allow certain areas of the budget to be changed, and others not. Significant changes can only be made with consent by the film’s investors and lenders, as well as any unions involved.

Task 1 – Quantitative Market Research – box office numbers

1. By looking at the Numbers international records chart, it’s easy to gather that, over the last decade or so, the most profitable films worldwide often belong to a franchise (e.g. Harry Potter) or trilogy (e.g. The Lord of the Rings) and that it is always the final installment that rakes in the most capital, for example, Deathly Hallows Part II at number 4 and The Return of The King at number 6.

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Another intriguing factor is that a lot of the top grossing films are based on source material, such as The Dark Knight trilogy being based on the comic book world of Batman and Skyfall being an extension of the James Bond universe created in the Iain Fleming novels. The most importantly, almost all of the top grossing films are produced by major companies and are backed by large budgets. Only at number 81, The Passion of the Christ stands as the highest grossing independent film with $622,420,667 worldwide, made possible by Mel Gibson funding the project himself.

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2. According to the Records, the top 5 grossing American films, in order, are: Avatar, Titanic, Marvel’s The Avenger’s, Iron Man 3 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. What this tells us about the relationship between international audiences and genre is that big budget, action-based Superhero franchises are huge attractions, perhaps because they ensure entertainment, immersion and visual spectacle. Transformers and Avatar also hint at a massive attraction to CGI-based Sci-Fi where artificial locations and characters thrive. Having Avatar and Titanic both at the top, and both directed by James Cameron, suggests that the huge reception of the earlier film influenced the box office takings of the second. Both films also gained notoriety for pushing new technology to the limits.

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3.  The top most profitable cast & crew members in the industry are Steven Spielberg, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler. This tells us that the industry is very much motivated by star-power and that, at least in mainstream films, stars are the most important attraction to cinema-goers and, thus, the most important profit factors. As a result, the most famous actors will often be given a portion of a film’s profits at the box office. Despite the power of Stars, Steven Spielberg is the most profitable person in the industry. This is due to his extremely successful reputation as a long-term mainstream director, who has produced many ‘modern classics’ (e.g.ET, Jaws)  which thus makes him just as attractive to film-goers as a lot of actors. His films are always anticipated as ensured quality, which thus ensures box office profit.

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4. Since 2002, annual cinema ticket sales have dropped from above 1, 500, 000, 000 to roughly 1, 300, 000, 000. This is subject to the development of the internet which has allowed for an increase in online piracy and, particularly in the last 3 years, streaming services such as Netflix, Love Film and the iTunes store. These services had made it even easier to watch films in the comfort of your own home, especially as a computer can suffice for a TV to use the services. The rise of streaming has coincided with the increase of cinema ticket prices which has made cinema-going a much more costly activity.

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5. Statistics show that the top-grossing age rating since 1995 has been PG-13, the US equivalent of the British 12A. This is understandable as such a rating still allows all members of a family to see the film, as long as parents understand that the film is likely to contain certain language, violence or sexual references that may not be suitable for their children. PG-13 is the top-grossing rating because it aspires to the needs of child and adult viewing whereby the film is not too offensive and not too childish. The statistics prove that families are the most profitable audience type.

6. Over the last 18 years, the genres of Comedy, Adventure and Drama have held the highest share of the market, each earning between 38 – 54.5 billion. Action is the fourth highest with 37 billion, after which, the subsequent genres have taken a much smaller box office taking. At No. 5, Thriller/Suspense has 18 billion, where as Musical, at No. 8, has only 3 billion. This is a dramatic decline from the takings of Comedy films. Notably, the total amount of movies produced in each genre doesn’t reflect the results: Comedy is the highest grossing with 2,832 films since 1995 whilst Adventure only produced 767 movies. This proves that, whilst each Adventure film scores the highest ticket sales, comedies are quicker and cheaper to produce and so therefore, more are produced each year.

When comparing these figures with those for the top Creative Type genres, Contemporary Fiction stands out at No. 1 with over 100 billion in box office sales whilst its runner up, Fantasy, only managed 25 billion. This is due to the fact that almost all of the genres on the previous page can contain films classified as Contemporary Fiction. Fantasy, in comparison, is a much less rigid genre, a less produced genre and it tends to fall into the Adventure category.

7. The most profitable production methods in filmmaking are Live Action, movies which use real people reacting with real objects (e.g. The Dark Knight), followed by Animation/Live Action which are live action films that rely heavily on animated objects and sequences (e.g. The Phantom Menace). In comparison, the least profitable production methods in filmmaking are Stop-Motion Animation, whereby objects or models are animated by small movements captured as photographic frames (e.g. Aardman films), and Roto-scoping, whereby frames of Live Action are transferred back into a film sequence as distorted cartoon animation (e.g. Waking Life).

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These results are not surprising. The top box office genres feature almost entirely Live Action or Animation/Live Action films. Over the last few years, the latter production method has seen a rise with the popularity of CGI-motivated films which has become the production preference of the major studios. Not many Stop-Motion Animation films are produced each year because of how long and tedious the animation process can be. Roto-scoping is hardly used as a production technique as it has mostly been used as an experimental, art-inspired visual style.

8. The biggest budgets of all time show a clear link between the budget size and the total Gross: in most cases, the larger the budget, the larger the Domestic Gross and thus, even more so, the larger the Worldwide Gross. This is mostly due to the fact that the biggest budgeted films generally have the most effort put into their marketing campaigns to ensure that there are enough ticket sales to supplement the overall cost, along with a lot of profit.
Surprising items on the big-budget list are the two Disney films, John Carter and The Lone Ranger, which both had massive budgets but failed to make much profit, the latter not even managing to pay off its production budget. Another surprising item is Tangled as it is the only Animated film out of the top 20. It is also very unusual for an Animated film to have such a large budget, particularly one that surpasses the budgets of The Hobbit films, Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean.
In conclusion, market research is a crucial aspect of the mainstream film industry as all the factors discussed above (trending film tastes, country of origin, cast & crew, streaming, age rating, genres, production methods, budgets etc.) must be assessed and applied appropriately in order to achieve the biggest success and, thus, largest profits. Unfortunately for the mainstream film industry, it is this quest for success and profits which cause most ‘hollywood’ films to be churned out as money-making machines, rather than quality art.
Nevertheless, so much money is put into each blockbuster (a few hundred million at least), the major movie studios can’t afford (literally) to make losses due to poor market research.

As a result, film trends must be analysed to find the current most popular (profitable) genres, Comedy and Adventure, which can be made suitable and easily digestible for the most common (and again most profitable) audience type, families. The next step is to cast the most suitable as well as attractive/popular Stars, along with a Director with a good reputation or status, preferably someone like Spielberg. A budget must then be assigned to make the film as unrestricted and massive and as possible, depending on the genre. Popular and innovative production methods, along with modern marketing campaigns, will be needed to pull potential audiences back to the cinemas and away from streaming services and online piracy. All of these factors crucially contribute to the overall success of the film as well as its Total Gross.