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The Future of Media Measurement: Instantaneous, Ubiquitous and Quantifiably Qualitative

March 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Audience measurement has been developing rapidly (outside MENA anyway!) over recent years with the advent of connected devices and increasing broadband penetration. However, much of it has remained quantitative and sample-based. Demographic data has allowed content owners/ distributors/ advertisers to measure the number of people who have consumed their content. However, if anyone wanted to know what people thought of their content and whether they liked or disliked some or all of it, they could only infer it from the quantitative data. If the number of viewers dropped, it could be assumed they didn’t like the show. The data could be examined on a per-second basis in some cases to establish if specific story lines or characters were well received. However, to obtain qualitative information, content owners need to rely on methods such as focus groups, face-to-face interviews, behavioural analyses and surveys. These tools remain relatively expensive techniques that require time to deploy and analyse.

Contrast that with the power that today’s social media provides to content creators: while a program is being viewed or heard, comments from its audience can be tracked in real-time. In a live tv show or a radio program, this could be used to alter some aspects of the content in response. A small-scale example of this is now found in conferences where moderators and panellists often find themselves responding to comments/ questions/ criticisms from twitter while they are still on the panel. This is no different for a producer in a studio gallery or a DJ in a radio show.

As the reach of broadband (mobile and fixed) and dual-screen viewing (TV/ Tablet or TV/ Laptop) grow, it is only a matter of time before mining qualitative data in real-time becomes the “norm” for measuring audience preferences.

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