Time for some psychology and audience types. Click on the images to go on the sites mentioned.
Quantitative refers to numerical data, hard facts if you like. This kind of research produces stats and measurable data, in the world of media this can include: TV ratings, game sales, site hits, box office earnings, number of downloads etc.
These kind of data are popular amongst analysts. As they are easily presentable and act as precise stats that can be used as factual evidence to make important decisions, or just getting a general idea of the market. However numbers are arbitrary and is not useful as constructive feedback (number can’t give hints to how media works can be improved quality wise for instance).
It’s also interesting to note that RAJAR’s data shows an increase of radio consumption via mobile phones amongst young people is increasingly which would push BBC to support and expand their radio apps (i.e. iPlayer radio which is consistently updated).
In the commercial world even great games can flop miserably when it comes to sales due to whatever reasons. It’s also a factor when it comes to continuing a franchise (sometimes companies make hush decisions), looking at two Ubisoft IPs: one was a blown away success (total sales of 5.32 million on Xbox 360 alone) and has spawned numerous sequels and spinoffs in less than 5 years.
Compared to the innovative, though dividing amongst critics (a qualitative factor I suppose), ZombiU which had any hopes of a sequel cut short due to its low sales (0.54m is low in terms of Ubisoft standards).
Even long standing series can be ended if the lastest game doesn’t sell so well. For instance Fire Emblem Awakening the 13th release in a series dating back to the nes era was going to be the last if the sales did not exceed 250,000 units at least. Luckily it ended up being the best selling game in the series and already surpassed the million mark at time of typing (and that’s not counting digital copies).
The abc is (not the infamous US broadcaster) a media data gatherer in short, an organisation that partners up with media organisations to provides audits on how well their service is doing. Their speciality is in print media so magazine publishers use the results of print circulation for promotion or tracking their success. Here’s a BBC article doing just that.
Qualitative research requires gathering opinions and in-depth data given by individuals usually collected in text form. In the media world this includes: interviews, online forums, reviews, comments, surveys (with open questions) and even complaint and reaction letters to TV broadcasters can be used as research material. This type of data became more in demand as psychological studies of audience rose in importance. Individual opinions helped give an overall view of a media product and the popularity of reviews became a marking sheet for improving said media. The date is also crucial for understanding a media’s reputation amongst consumers. Though qualitative data can be highly subjected to bias and impossible to measure statistically.
Browsing through the Nintendo website there is a whole section that houses the company president’s (Satoru Iwata) numerous interviews with game developers that serves as an insight to development (thus promoting the product at the sametime to consumers) as well as to build stronger relations with third parties and Nintendo employees (whilst gaining insights as to what makes developers want to actually work with Nintendo).
There has actually been some controversy surrounding the quantitative score outputted by the aggregator (including one notorious case where a job application from Irrational games demanded applicants with: “Credit on at least one game with an 85+ average Metacritic review score.” with was considered baffling irrational by the same critics that gave out scores). The actually reviews themselves collected by the site however has had impact on how creators can improve:
Focus group screenings are a popular way of getting pre-release audience responses to see what people liked and didn’t like in order to heighten a movie’s reception amongst viewers. Last minute edits and scene changes are usually made after this.
There are bazillion ways to label audiences, some are odder than others, but there’s a theory for each since psychologists and researchers have a field day coming up with them. For the sake of examples this
- Socio-economic status– people’s cultural, their societies’ views and their financial status.
- Demographics– age, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity of your target audience. This is the one that everyone brags on about the most as it plays a big factor in deciding target audiences of any piece of media.
- Psychographics– a category that characterises audiences on what they like and what makes a product tick for them (a deeper analysis into the product rather than the audience’s demographic etc). The name says it all: is about what people think, their personality and the kind of lifestyle they endeavor. This method of profiling is slowly starting to replace the demographical methods, with the rise of internet surfers and thus easier to obtain behavioural data and survey distributions, it’s only natural that psychographic profiling is on the rise.
- Geographic location– Where the target audience resides. Sort of similar to cultural as well but really it’s an excuse to include different dialects within your product to better relate to people of a particular region (otherwise known as regional-identity). PlusNet’s brand identity is a good example, they take pride in their Yorkshire roots (hence why their mascot is a friendly man speaking with a regional yorkshire accent):
- Consumer behaviour/attitudes/awareness– Qualitative research is carried out specifically to support this type of profiling. By getting reactions from different audiences on your product, you can start pinpointing which type of audience find your product the most appealing (this is linked to psychographics of course).
- Education– how educated is your audience? This is not a case of seeing how smart your audience is but rather their know how in a particular area. Their literacy level should determine the words you use, their understanding levels of a subject should dictate the amount of jargon or explanations you include.
- Mainstream- products that are marketed to the mainstream compete with the latest and most popular medias. Since this audience group are big on trends and wouldn’t actively seek out a piece of media unless heavily advertised or is well know. That’s how the industry define mainstream: the will buy what is hot folks. Media creators will often try to imitate successful products in order to cater to that familiarity, that’s why we now have a million superhero films and first person shooters (this might all sound strange if you are reading it in future, trends always change).
- Niche- Refers to a market that is small but dedicated groups that share common interests. It’s a very specialised audience. Usually media with limited appeal but a dedicated fanbase of another product in a series or similar medias, are considered to have niche appeal. Targeting niche markets usually requires less brodacious advertising efforts than targeting for mainstream audiences since the former is more likely to seek out what they like.