• Created by: holly6901
  • Created on: 30-01-20 13:25

Understanding audiences

  • The relationship between media and the audience is changing
  • There is no longer assumed to be one way of interpreting a media product and one response
  • Audiences are not mass and their responses are complicated, they are influenced by a range of factors
  • Audiences are made up of individuals who's cultural and social experiences may affect their response
  • Media producers are acutely aware of their audience and how to attract them
  • There is a range of theories that explains the different responses to media texts
  • When you study the audience there are several things to consider;
    • How audiences are grouped and categorised by media industries
    • How media producers target, attract, reach, address and construct audiences
    • How media industries target audiences through the appeal of the media products
    • The relationship between media technologies and how audiences consume media 
    • The different way audiences may interpret and respond to the same media product
    • How audiences are positioned by media products
    • How audiences actively interact with the media
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Audience categories

  • Audiences can be categorised in several ways
    • This is to define them more easily and consider how to target them
  • These include by age, gender and class
  • The magazine and advertising industries tend to categorise audiences in terms of income, lifestyle and needs
    • This is an outdated method
  • Audiences can be defined in two ways;
    • Demographics - classifies an audience by their occupation and income, through the ABC1C2DE system
      • Age and gender are also aspects of demographic profiling and some media products will publish details of their target audience to provide broad information for the advertisers
    • Psychographics - Defines an audience by their values and lifestyles, class and income became a less appropriate way of defining an audience, advertisers considered different ways of defining audiences. 
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Young and Rubicam

One of the ways to categorise audiences is Young and Rubicam's Four C's. This agency considered how cross-cultural consumer characteristics can group people into 7 recognisable groups reflected through motivational needs, including security, control, status, individuality, freedom, survival and escape. The 4 main categories are;

  • Mainstreamers - These make up 40% of the population. They like security, tried and trusted brands and like to think they belong to a group of like-minded people. They are persuaded by value for money and are less likely to take risks.
  • Aspirers - This group wants status and prefer brands that show their place in society. They are happy to live on credit and will buy designer label items. They are stylish and dynamic and may be persuaded by celebrity endorsements.
  • Explorers - They like to discover new things. They are attracted by brands that offer new experiences and instant results.
  • Succeeders - People who already have status and control and have nothing to prove. They prefer brands that are serious and reliable and believe they deserve the best.
  • Reformers - This group are defined by their self-esteem and self-fulfilment. They tend to be innovative and are less impressed by status. They are not materialistic and are socially aware. They may be more inclined to buy environmentally friendly brands or those that are considered healthy.
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How do media products target/attract audiences

  • Methods for targeting audiences are;
    • Technical and audio codes - The product may employ these to attract an audience. The fast-paced editing and dramatic music of a trailer for a TV drama to attract audiences, likewise the large dramatic headlines of a tabloid newspaper.
    • The language and mode of address - may target a specific audience and alienate another. For example, the images and text on the COD game's cover may use lexis and a tone specific to an audience of young men: only they will understand the language and references as they are the intended audience. The voice-over of a TV documentary may attract fans of the sub-genre by the tone of voice and the narrative enigmas.
    • The construction - of the product and the audience within the product. How, for example, the opening sequence of a TV drama is edited and constructed will be designed to target an audience. This may involve enigmas, multi-stranded narratives and the use of stars and their roles.
    • An audience can also be targeted through how the product is marketed and distributed. For example, viral, online and social media teaser campaigns for TV dramas are used to target a younger audience. The #sherlocklives interactive campaign launched before the third series is a good example of this technique
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How are audiences constructed by media products

  • Audiences are constructed by products
  • The producers will spend a lot of time researching and constructing their audience
  • Some products create press packs for advertisers containing information about their audience
  • There is often a difference between the producers constructed audience and an actual audience of a product
  • A  newspaper will an image, headlines and plug to suggest who should be the audience
  • In 2014, YouGov launched a web app that allowed users to view audience profiles of different media companies
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Audience positioning

  • Media products are created in order to place audiences in a particular position. Audience positioning concerns the relationship between the specific product and the responses an audience may have to that product. The producers encode the product with meanings and messages through media language, and the audience decodes these messages. Different audiences will decode the same products in different ways and will, therefore, have a different response. Media products position audiences through;
    • Through the technical codes employed by the product
    • Through the language and mode of address
    • Through the construction of the production
  • The positioning the audiences by the creators of media products suggests that they should accept the messages contained within the product and decode the text in the way expected. However, audiences do not all respond to the same product in the same way. They may accept or challenge the messages in the product.
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What affects the way in which an audience responds

  • Gender - Different genders respond to different products in different ways. For example, its been suggested women the themes and narratives of soap operas more than men
  • Age - Older audiences may be more uncomfortable with sexually explicit media products with a high level of bad language
  • Ethnicity - Different ethnicities may interpret texts based on their cultural backgrounds
  • The culture, experience and situation also affect the audience
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