Intrigue in the Big League

A uni student's intrigue in marketing and media


Leave a comment

Connecting with my audience: media, audience and place

Over the past nine weeks I have learned a lot about the concepts of media, audience and place. I have realised that not only are these concepts a large part of every-day life for people all around the world, but they are also very closely linked. What would media be without an audience? Where is the audience when they consume and absorb this media, and how is this significant? To some people, this might sound unimportant. Why not study something that can change the world? Surely something scientific would be of more use than understanding the relationship between media, audience and place. But to me that isn’t the case. I think entertainment is integral to the happiness of the human race, and as corny as that may sound, I do believe that media provides an irreplaceable type of enjoyment. In addition to this, media has also proved to be extremely useful in many ways. For this reason, I believe research into these concepts is important, for both the media producers as well as the audience.

Keeping up with changes and advances in technology and media is an important part of understanding media, audience and place. For example, TV technology as well as the culture of TV watching has changed a lot over the years. Interviewing my mum about her experiences with television really helped me to understand the extent to which media and technology (especially television) have evolved. This interview also led to my understanding of the importance of culture and norms when it comes to media, audience and place. The technologies, media platforms, and media content are important, but more important are the interactions the audience has with that media. I found it interesting how these interactions changed depending on where the audience was viewing the content. For example, going to the movies is consumption of media in a public place. Usually sitting in a dark room, without talking and paying attention to something else is considered anti-social behaviour. However the addition of media, an audience and a certain context (place) makes this situation perfectly normal.

public-watchingThe cinema is obviously a public space, but with media and technology advances it is now hard to clearly define public and private spaces. Mobile devices allow people to access media in public spaces, whilst still being private. I found this concept interesting because the use of mobile devices has led to people acting more privately in public, and the use of devices at home has led to people acting more publicly in private. I believe this because activity online is a public action. This is supported by Mackie-Mason and Lesk (2011), who believe complete privacy is not possible online. This is interesting because this means people are sharing things publicly online, however they may not feel comfortable with the people around them (in a public space) viewing this content over their shoulder. My interactions with other bloggers further confirmed my belief that people are acting more privately (through media technologies) in public spaces.

I also find it interesting the amount of media consumption that now occurs at schools, which leads me to the concept of media multitasking. Many students take their laptops to university as though it’s a limb they can’t live without. Many researchers (such as Jeong, Hwang, Wang and Tchernev) believe the use of mobile devices during classes (aka media multitasking) can actually hinder a student’s learning rather than assist it. I relate closely to this concept because I prefer to take notes in a book when watching lectures because I feel media platforms and technology can be too distracting.

What I find most interesting about the concepts of media, audience and place is how they relate to me and the things I do. These concepts affect and are part of my every-day life. This blog, for example, encompasses all of these elements. I am using media to try to reach, connect with and even inspire an audience. This audience comes from everywhere. As my statistics show, my blog has had visitors from USA, South Africa, Malaysia, Australia and many other countries. Some of these people just view my posts, but others like (favourite) them, and a small amount even comment on them. This blog may be a requirement of my university degree, but the fact that people actually read my posts and like the ideas I have is an incredible feeling. Connecting with a public audience is very difficult, especially when you’re not sure exactly how to write a post that people will relate to and understand. Making your blog look nice and easy to navigate is a good first step, but ensuring the content will attract an audience takes a lot more effort. I use a lot of tags with my blog posts because it provides my audience with an idea of what each post is about. Tags are also useful because it attracts audience members who are just researching the elements that my post encompasses. Twitter is another good way to reach an audience. I tweet a link to my blog posts when I publish them to let my Twitter followers know I have been writing about a new topic. Facebook can be another good way to attract an audience. I don’t really link my posts on Facebook unless I think they are about a very interesting topic. This is because my Facebook friends are more of an audience I know on a personal level, and knowing they are reading and critiquing my blog is a bit intimidating. Connecting with an audience is really important to me and I have tried to make the design and content of my blog appeal to the widest possible audience.

I feel I have achieved a connection with a public audience because since the start of this session 13 more people have followed my blog, and many have commented in response to my posts. As I have written each week about media, audience and place, I definitely feel my blog has evolved, and my understanding of media, audience and place has evolved with it.


2 Comments

Australian’s lose pride when it comes to Australian cinema

russell-crowe-australian-film

Attending the cinema is a popular social activity. In Australia, an average of 69% of people attend the cinema at least once per year (Screen Australia 2012). But how many of these people are watching content created locally? Australian films are struggling in their local market, according to Papadopoulos, but why? Verhoeven argues that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest Australians aren’t going to see local films at the cinema because they dislike them. She believes there are many factors that could contribute to this lack of viewing, such as marketing techniques and timing (2014).

Although I agree that marketing and timing are major factors that can affect the success of films at the cinema, I believe there are obvious feelings people have towards Australian films that can’t be ignored. Unfortunately for the Australian film industry, their local audience seems to have a rather negative view of their productions as a whole. I know this because my partner is one of those audience members. However he is not the only one, I know several people who don’t value Australian films at the same rate as ones that originate from the USA or UK.

To understand the reasoning behind this aversion towards Australian films, I asked my partner exactly why he thought so negatively of them. His main reasons were based on his experiences with Australian films he has watched in the past. He said they felt cheap and the acting wasn’t at a very high standard. He said these are the reasons he avoids Australian films. He admitted that American films can sometimes be like this as well, but he believed this occurred a lot less often than with Australian films.

I was arguing with him about the quality of Australian films, and said that not all of them could be as bad as he thought. As a joke he replied:

“yeah, only 93.4% of them are that bad, and I can’t be bothered to go looking for the good ones.”

Now, if you are a big fan of Australian films, you’re probably really disliking my partner right now. But before you start writing hateful comments, I think its worth noting that a large portion of the Australian population is likely to have the same opinion. I base this on recent Australian box office earnings. For example, the Australian film ‘These Final Hours‘ earned only $206,727 in Australian box offices over its first weekend in cinemas. The producers were expecting over $1 million based on good responses to marketing. This could not compare to the earnings of ‘Lucy‘ ($4.6m) and ‘Hercules‘ ($1.4m) in that weekend, both of which had already been out for several weeks (mUmBRELLA 2014). Australians are choosing American films over Australian films every day, and this general assumption that all Australian films are cheap and therefore a lower quality is really hurting Australian film production. In this case, the Australian public was definitely mistaken. On IMDb (Internet Movie Database) ‘These Final Hours’ was rated at 7.2 out of 10. This was much higher than both ‘Lucy’, rated 6.6, and ‘Hercules’, rated 6.4 (IMDb 2014). Rotten Tomatoes (often considered a more reliable rating system) rated ‘These Final Hours’ even higher than IMDb.

As a marketing student I can’t help suggesting that the entire Australian film industry needs to be rebranded for Australians to change their negative connotations with Australian films.

References

Maddox, G 2014, Not the end of the world, but box office slump of These Final Hours sparks soul searching, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/not-the-end-of-the-world-but-box-office-slump-of-these-final-hours-sparks-soul-searching-20140806-100oc7.html#ixzz3EL7pvMEk>.

mUmBRELLA 2014, Aussie film These Final Hours fails to find an audience on opening weekend, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://mumbrella.com.au/aussie-film-these-final-hours-fails-to-find-audience-242637>.

news.com.au 2014, Local audiences snub Australian filmmakers yet Hollywood loves them, viewed 25 September 2014, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/local-audiences-snub-australian-filmmakers-yet-hollywood-loves-them/story-fnk853hr-1227057559133>.

Papadopoulos, T 2014, An Aussie Film Decline? The Reasons are a Dog’s Breakfast, Crikey, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/an-aussie-film-decline-the-reasons-are-a-dogs-breakfast/12637>.

Screen Australia 2014, Percentage of people who had been to the cinema in the last 12 months, and average number of visits, 1974–2012, Australian Government, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcrmattend.aspx>.


Leave a comment

Self-regulation in media and advertising

Everyone who has used media has encountered some kind of regulation or restrictions at some point. You might have signed up for a competition and you had to accept the terms and conditions. You might have tried to watch a video on a website only to find that it wasn’t available for viewing in your country. You might have tried to go to a movie that was rated MA 15+ when you were 14, and were denied access. There are many types of restrictions and regulations when it comes to media, both at home and in public.

Personally I have encountered many media restrictions. What I find more interesting however is the restrictions media producers have themselves, especially in the public space. As a marketing student, I have recently been studying creative advertising and the types of regulations and restrictions they encounter in business. One concept often visited in both the advertising industry and the media industry is self-regulation.

Self-regulation is an environment where the government or the state formally hands over the power to regulate, so that the industry itself is actually regulating, in effect empowering the industry or business community to establish its own standards or principles (Spence & Van Heekeren 2005).

Self-regulation gives industries more freedom when it comes to producing content. In my opinion, for self-regulation to be successful, industries need to find a balance between creativity and ethics. Campbell (1999) believes there are certain factors that are key to the success of self-regulation in any industry. First, the regulators must have expertise and motivation. Second, the regulatory staff must have authority to enforce rules as well as review decisions or suggestions. Third, relatively narrow rules should be implemented to ensure standards are met.

A study of self-regulatory programs in many different industries confirmed Campbell’s third hypothesis. The study found that the programs with the most subjective standards experienced the most difficulty in implementation (Michael in Campbell 1999). I believe this supports my opinion that a balance is needed. Having standards that meet ethical guidelines for the industry is important when self-regulating. This is because ethics are often a good basis for what is suitable to present to the public (at least in media and advertising industries). These ethical guidelines need to be balanced with creativity. This is important because a safe advertisement or a safe media production may not be creative enough to gain the interest of the audience.

An example of an imbalanced self-regulation advertisement can be seen in the billboard that was up in Sydney for a period of time (shown below).

Why is this burger ad so offensive?

This image was presented on a billboard in Sydney to promote Bondi Junction’s Goodtime Burgers. This advertisement created a lot of controversy in the public, especially in the female demographic.

A lot of the time advertisers want to create controversy because it means more people will remember and recognise the brand. In this case, the advertisement was viewed by at least 500,000 people online (Meryment 2013, DT). According to Goodtime Spokeswoman Laura Brown, creating controversy was not the intention of the advertisement. The advertisement is “fun” and they “wanted to give people a laugh” (Meryment 2013, DT). However, this advertisement was definitely a risk. Using nudity or sex doesn’t align with ethical regulations, and therefore this advertisement does not have a good balance between creativity and ethics.

After many complaints the government took the billboard down. This is an example not only of the kinds of restrictions there are on media in general, but also the restrictions media can have in public spaces. If this advertisement had only been shown online or in magazines, there is a question of whether the advertisement would have been removed in that case.


References

Spence, E & Van Heekeren, B 2005, Advertising Ethics, Pearson, New York.

Meryment, E 2013, Look closer: cheeky burger campaign has some spitting chips, Daily Telegraph, 14 December, viewed 19 September 2014, <http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/look-closer-cheeky-burger-campaign-has-some-spitting-chips/story-fni0cx12-1226782712974?nk=38982bc6263f06d649ccd840b06153ee>.

Campbell, A 1999, Self Regulation and the Media, Federal Communications Law Journal, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 711-772.


2 Comments

Decreasingly Private, Increasingly Public

public-watchingPublic and private space. What are they really? Originally your private space was in your home, and your public space was out and about; anywhere outside of the house. But today these spaces are not so easily defined. With more interactions and activity on the internet, it can be difficult to understand whether what you do is public or private. If you post a photo on Facebook, and your profile is set on secret, does that make your photo private? If you write a blog post that can be accessed by anyone is that public? Is the internet only private or public based on the content you post and the security measures you take to keep them safe? These are all questions many scholars have tried to answer.

According to Mackie-Mason and Lesk (2011), soon all space will be public space. They believe we are choosing to live more and more publicly, and although there are security options available to try to stay private, these technologies are not evolving quickly enough to keep up with privacy-releasing technologies.

Keeping content private on the internet that you have uploaded yourself can be hard, but keeping content of others private is near impossible. This takes us into the territory of video surveillance and public photography.

Laws in NSW allow people to video tape and photograph other people without their permission if they are in a public space. When it comes to uploading this content to the internet or using it for other professional uses, the law requires you ask the person/people in the footage for permission to release that footage (Arts Law Centre of Australia 2014). There are also ethical considerations to take under advisement when using footage of other people. You might choose to use a photo of someone on your blog, knowing they will probably never see it. But is that an invasion of their privacy? It’s important to understand the implications of using a person’s photo or footage without their permission.

The use of media technologies in public is another interesting concept. When there is a large group watching a large screen like in the photo on the left, it is known that the content being shown is public and therefore part of that public setting. However when individuals are using smaller devices such as laptops or phones (also shown in the image), those devices are regarded as private. For example, if you were reading your Facebook posts on your laptop, and a stranger came up behind you and started reading over your shoulder, you would feel like your privacy was being invaded. But that’s in a public space, and that person has the right to do that because they aren’t in your home.

Given these advancements in technology, the current laws might be too outdated to provide the level or privacy or security people now need. For example, a couple was filmed having intercourse on a secluded, dark rooftop by a police helicopter with high-grade surveillance technology (Dwyer 2005). The couple was filmed for four minutes. The police department claim the footage was taken to ensure there was no risk of the couple throwing objects at the police below. The man on the roof has filed charges because he feels his privacy was invaded and disrespected (Dwyer 2005). Due to these type of scenarios, and always evolving technologies, laws need to change to better protect the privacy of people in public spaces.


References

Arts Law Centre of Australia 2014, Street Photographers Rights, Art Law Information Sheet, viewed 4 September 2014, <http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/street-photographers-rights/>.

Dwyer, J 2005, Police Video Caught a Couple’s Intimate Moment on a Manhattan Rooftop, New York Times, December 22, accessed 4 September 2014, <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/22/nyregion/22rooftop.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0>.

Lesk, M & Mackie-Mason, J 2011, All Space Will Be Public Space, Security and Privacy Economics, pp. 77-80, viewed 4 September 2014 <http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6029363>.


1 Comment

Snapchatting with a six-year-old

There have been many debates about technology and its impact on home life and other relationships. Specifically, the use of the internet (and various media platforms available through an internet connection) has been a main focal point for many researchers as technology has evolved and become a major part of household life.

Take my home, for example. Currently my home contains five people (mum, dad, brother, sister and me). Between these people there are a total of 16 technological/media devices (TVs, laptops, iPads/tablets, smart phones and computers). There is one data plan for the household, with a monthly download allowance of 200GB. Each of us have separate data allowances on our mobile phone plans, however when we are at home we connect to the home broadband via Wi-Fi. At the moment our broadband connection is extremely slow. My mum and dad used words like “shocking”, “abysmal” and “the worst in the world” when I asked them what they thought of the speed of our internet. The NBN isn’t available in our area, so unfortunately that isn’t an option for us.

slow internetWhat I find amusing about our “abysmal” connection speed is the different opinions of my family members. Although my mum and dad did describe the speed as “the worst in the world”, when I asked them when it most annoyed them they admitted it wasn’t really bothering them that much. What was bothering my mum and dad most was my 17-year-old brother’s endless complaining about the terrible internet speed. This is an example of what different generations have come to expect from broadband connections and internet speed. My brother is used to a fast speed and is annoyed about the now very slow speed. However, my mum and dad are used to slow internet connections, or at least remember them from the dial-up days. According to my mum the internet speed at our house isn’t even that bad. As she put it “if you want the worst internet speed in the world all you have to do is go to your grandparent’s house.”

This is an example of what younger generations have come to expect of technology and the internet in their home (faster speed and better quality). ABS statistics also support this trend:

“Almost every household with children under 15 years of age had access to the internet at home (96%), as compared to 78% of households without children under 15 years of age in 2012–13” (2012-13).

Another example of an increased use and understanding of technology by younger snapchatgenerations is my boyfriend’s little sister. She just turned six and is the most tech-savvy six-year-old I know. One day she saw my boyfriend and I sending Snapchats to each other in the same room (yet another example of how things have changed in the networked home) and she walked in. She saw that we were sending silly pictures and drawings and automatically wanted to “play too”. Next thing we knew she had added us from a Snapchat account she had made on her mum’s phone. From that day on my boyfriend and I received countless Snapchats of this funny little six year old. We got bored of it fairly quickly, but she thought it was the funniest game in the world.

Until my media class, I guess I didn’t really think twice about this behaviour. It was normal for her and her eight-year-old brother to want every game or app that we had on our phones. They would play on the iPad or on their mum’s phone when they were allowed. But now I realise this behaviour is a glimpse into every future home, or even many current homes. Use of technology and media through the internet is going to be a huge part of every young person’s future, and all future generations. They will grow up with it, not ever understanding how older generations could have lived without it. The question many researchers are asking now is:

“Is this a bad thing? Will this have a negative impact on future generations?”

Researchers such as Sherry Turkle and Danah Boyd have different opinions when it comes to these questions. Turkle is worried about people (teens in particular) being connected online, but alone in reality, meaning that internet connectivity may lead to disconnected physical relationships that don’t exist online. Boyd, on the other hand, tries to explain things from the teen’s perspective. While many others are worrying about what teens are doing online, she asks teens about their online activity to try to get a better understanding of the practices of youth as they “try to find themselves in a networked world” (2014, p. xi).

In my opinion, people will make mistakes as they go and learn from them in time. This is uncharted territory. We can’t make assumptions about the future based on the small amount of data that we have found. Things will continue to change as the world continues to evolve technologically. The best we can do is try to nudge our youth in what seems to be the right direction.


References

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014, Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2012-13, cat. no. 8146.0, accessed 22 August 2014, <2B4C241B1D0D7691CA257C89000E3F61>.

Boyd, D 2014, It’s Complicated, Yale College, USA.

Turkle, S 2012, Connected, but alone?, vodcast, February, TED, viewed 22 August 2014, <http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together>.


Leave a comment

Measuring the Lies

As a student studying media with a major in marketing, I think it’s fair to say I can understand the importance and benefits of understanding an audience. Media producers want to know how their show is doing, the reason it has certain ratings, and how they can improve or maintain those ratings. Marketers want to use this data to their advantage. They can plug certain TV shows in shows that have high ratings, they can run advertisements in slots that are most likely to be witnessed by their target audience, plus much more. Measuring an audience can be done in many different ways, for many different reasons.

Measuring TV and radio audiences is a common occurrence. But the real question is “how reliable are the results?”

First lets talk about methodology. For TV measurement, the “black box” is given to certain households to measure TV watching. Demographic information is collected about the people in that household (occupation, age, income, gender etc). Those people are then also expected to input certain data into the black box to assist in the measurements; how many people are in the room, whether they left the room at all during the program, etc.

For radio measurement, originally certain people were given paper diaries to fill in. Certain information was required, such as time of listening, the channel, how long the listening occurred, what they were doing at the time (where they were) etc. Again demographic information was also collected about the people in the study.

Both of these methodologies involve input from the people being measured. This means the data collected is subject to the truthfulness and commitment of the people being measured. For example, if one person in the household with the black box is watching TV by themselves, and leave the room for five minutes to make coffee, they might forget to input this movement into the black box. Or if a person given a radio diary completely forgets about it until the last week of the study, and writes down their radio listening for the last month even though they have forgotten most of it, this data is likely to be untrue.

The point is, people are unreliable, and information they give about themselves is not exactly reliable. Therefore, audience measurement is a difficult process and results can be skewed by the data given by the audience.

As an example, I created my own very short survey. From the results of this survey, I could say that the majority of students in Wollongong would prefer to watch ‘The Bachelor’ on TV rather than the other show on offer on the other main channels. I could also say the majority of them prefer chocolate as a snack. However, any of the respondents could have lied about their answers. This shows how audience measurement results can be unreliable.

arbitron-PPM

To avoid this downfall of radio audience measurement, American radio audience measurement firm, Arbitron, introduced a new,
more technological system for measuring radio audiences. The Portable People Meter (PPM) (“a pager-sized deviced that automatically captures the audio signals to which the carrier of the device is exposed, and translates that information into… ratings data” (Napoli 2009, p. 2))  replaced the old paper diaries.

However this efficient new device caused a lot of controversy. There were so many complaints about the device that it led to lawsuits. I find this very interesting. The audience will not have to make any effort at all for this study (except carry the device around) and therefore it makes the process easier for them. However, concerns of privacy are always important when it comes to measurement of audience activity.

What I also find intriguing is the fact that these results are likely to be more accurate than previous studies’. As Napoli states in his article:

“a new audience measurement system can produce significantly different portraits of the media audience from the system that preceded it” (2009, p. 3).

I expect more systems like the PPM will be created by audience measurement companies for many media types. The more accurate the results, the easier it is for media producers and marketers to use this information to their advantage.


 

References

Napoli, PM 2009, Audience Measurement, The Diversity Principle, and the First Amendment Right to Construct the Audience, Donald McGrannon Communication Research Center, viewed 15 August 2014, <http://www.fordham.edu/images/undergraduate/communications/audience%20measurement,%20diversity,%20and%201a.pdf>.


1 Comment

What happened to the “brown box on four legs”?

As you could probably guess, there have been many changes to TV since the 1960’s. What was once black and white is now colour and what was once a “brown box on four legs” (as my mum puts it) is now a black, flat screen.

tv-OLD

tv-NEW

arrow

 

 

My mum was born in Wales and when she thinks of TV when she was younger she thinks of shows like “The Magic Roundabout” and “Blue Peter” (whatever those are). Apart from the obvious change in looks and TV programs, my mum pointed out a few other differences I hadn’t considered before. She only had one TV in the house for her entire childhood, now today finding a household with only one TV is almost impossible. She also reminded me that when she was a kid she had to physically get up and twist the knobs on the TV if she wanted to change the channel or volume.

noTV

One of the major differences she remembered was the fact that programs didn’t run all the time. There were only 3 channels, and those channels only ran programs for part of the day. The rest of the time was an image that looked something like this (right) and my mum remembers it distinctly.

Some other things my mum remembered about TV from her childhood were to do with culture and family. She remembers the rule of not being allowed to watch TV before 5pm.

“Dad worked until about 4:30, so sometimes we would risk watching TV after school and switch it off just as he walked through the door. But Dad had this trick where he felt the top of the TV set (the transistors in the TV get warm after you watch a bit) and if it was hot we would miss out on TV that night and the next day.”

When my mum and her family moved to Australia in 1971, TV sets were now available in colour. My mum and her siblings remember begging their Dad for one, but he wasn’t the sort to give in easily. It must have been at least three years after colour TV came out that my mum and her siblings were allowed one.

The way my mum grew up with TV is important. As Tobias and Murray point out in their article (2010), the way children experience TV when they grow up will effect the way they enjoy and perceive television in the future.

 

References

Tobias & Murray 2010, How has the culture of TV (and TV-watching) changed?, A.V. Club, viewed 8 August 2014, <http://www.avclub.com/article/how-has-the-culture-of-tv-and-tv-watching-changed-42274>.


Leave a comment

Evolving with technology

 

Technological advances allow us to use media whenever and wherever we want. Not many people can say they haven’t used their mobile phone while they were watching TV. In fact, while using apps was once just a distraction during an ad break, I now see friends and family members paying more attention to their mobile device than the television when the program they are watching is on.

This hardly seems logical considering that person has gone out of their way to ensure they can watch the program. Texting might make more sense because that person is choosing to communicate as well watch their program, but playing a game such as Candy Crush while your favourite program is on… why?

But, to be honest, I can’t really talk. There are many times when I find myself extending my app usage past the ad-break and into the show I am watching. And the app really isn’t that good… I mean Flappy Bird really isn’t something I should prioritise above MasterChef… is it?

Even using my laptop I find myself distracted by different types of media available to me. As you can see in the screen-shot I took before I started writing this post, I have 9 tabs open in Chrome. Do I really need them open right now? No. But I find myself hesitant to close any tabs in case I need to look at them soon. This also leads to me checking emails, Facebook, SOLS and shopping sites when really I should be watching a lecture I’ve missed or writing a blog post.

bcm240-pic-post1

 

While technology evolves, I find myself not only using it in new and different ways, but also using it constantly. Media has become a huge part of our everyday lives, whether you are 5 or 50, there’s a good chance you’ll be using media in many different ways and in many different places .