Dr Media says well finally Neilson admits it doesn’t know what it’s talking about and finances a study at Ball State, not MIT, I might add. And this study proposes to follow people around and watch what they do with media. Well, not so sure that this method will yield any significant results, after all following people around does have some impact on what they do , doesn’t it ? However, the fact that the study is being done and asking questions about what is going on in this new media universe which is emerging is very good. Dr. Media however, says, just ask people the right questions and have dialogue with them and they will tell you what they are doing. This is called dialogical research and has shown itself to be most effective Thats right ask people and they will tell you, of course you need to know how to ask them. This is a start on finding out whats going on that is at least based on research rather than speculation.
New Study Will Be Watching What You’re Watching
By Jon Lafayette
Imagine what you would learn if you spent all day looking over people’s shoulders to see how they consume media.
What do they do when they wake up, when they’re at work, while they’re at their computer or sitting in their living rooms?
The Council for Research Excellence has commissioned a $3.5 million
study that will do just that, beginning next month. The council is an
independent forum of research experts created and funded by the Nielsen
The results of the observational study, conducted by Ball State
University’s Center for Media Design & Sequent Partners, will help
Nielsen figure out the gaps in current audience measurement,
particularly when it comes to video.
Shari Anne Brill, VP and director of programming at Carat and a
co-chair of the Council’s media consumption and engagement committee,
called the study a landmark piece of research.
“We really do not have any understanding whatsoever of how consumers
go about accessing content throughout their waking day,” Ms. Brill
said. “We all make assumptions, but due to the technique that Ball
State University has pioneered, we get a better understanding of that
and what the implications are for the future.”
Ms. Brill said one of the committee’s objectives was to test some of
the myths about media consumption that arise when a bunch of industry
people in New York and Los Angeles rely on their own consumption
experience as a model.
For example, there’s a feeling that videocassette recorders have
disappeared and everyone is using digital video recorders to tape
shows. There also was a sense that people would be moving from the TV
to the Web, watching shows and movies on their iPods and other such
“We really wanted to understand how consumers were engaging with
media, specifically video,” Ms. Brill said, “to get an understanding of
how it’s changing over time, in order to propose the optimal form of
video media measurement.”
Howard Shimmel, senior VP for client insights at Nielsen, said the
study will give the research company a good sense of how much video is
being watched using different devices.
“It’s important that we understand the size of consumption before we
make a decision about whether we have a dialogue with our clients about
whether we include it in our measurement framework or not,” Mr. Shimmel
said. “So as you think about something like video consumption on iPods,
knowing whether that’s 1% or 5% or 10% is an important part of the
dialogue we need to have with our clients.”
Knowing more about how people are watching TV now also could provide
insights into how viewing should be measured going forward, he said.
The Video Mapping Survey will conduct its research by following 350
people in five markets: Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago and
Seattle. The panelists will be measured twice over a six-month period,
with the researchers using a computerized device that records data at
“We’re logging their exposure to and their use of 17 different media
and the different ways in which they’re used,” said Mike Bloxham,
director of insight and research at Ball State’s Center for Media
While the study is primarily focused on video consumption, “We are
still nonetheless going to be taking into account use of other media,
such as newspapers, magazines and the telephone, and all the rest, so
that we have a full contextual understanding and we can look at
simultaneous media usage,” Mr. Bloxham said.
With the computerized data device, if a researcher is watching
someone who is watching TV and has a newspaper open on his lap, “It’s
possible to tell when you’re paying more attention to one or the other
because you’ve got to look at both of those, and then our observer will
be toggling between the two.”
In addition, a 100-person panel in the Indianapolis market will be
observed before and after what Ball State calls a “media acceleration
The people in that group are offered a 50% discount on digital video
recorders, wireless laptops and other devices the researchers think
might change media consumption habits.
The people in the test are interested in the devices, but they’re
waiting for the price to go down. They’ll be observed before they’ve
acquired the device and after they’ve had time to establish a new
pattern of use.
“What we’re trying to do is avoid the early adopters, and we’re also
trying to avoid the people who will just say ‘yes’ when you offer them
a free shiny object with lots of buttons and flashing lights,” Mr.
The acceleration process has already been tested via a smaller project backed by Time Warner, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo.
All of the participants in the study will be people who have rotated
out of other Nielsen audience panels. That will give the researchers
further ability to compare their media usage over time.
Mr. Bloxham said he expected results to be available early next year.
Ms. Brill is already looking ahead.
“We’ll probably have a really great opportunity to learn more about
multiplatform viewing, get our first understanding of how mobile
devices are being used for accessing video content,” she said.
The project also takes a look at how DVR playback affects live
viewing and will measure channel-changing and fast-forwarding, she said.
“The output of this is we’ve got an incredible granular data set,
which is, importantly, a continuous timeline throughout the day,” Mr.
Bloxham said. “It’s not one point in the day, it’s not self-report,
it’s not one medium, it’s not one environment like home or workplace,
it’s all of these things together,” he said.
“From an industry point of view, this is a study that will be
utilized and talked about for years to come,” he added. “In academia it
will be there for at least 20 years.”