Audience Evolution

Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Audience Evolution
    Book Description:

    Today's consumers have unprecedented choice in terms of the technologies and platforms that access, produce, and distribute media content. The development and overlap of television, the internet, and other media technologies is fragmenting and empowering media audiences more than ever. Building on his award-winning book, Audience Economics, Philip M. Napoli maps the landscape of our current media environment and describes its challenge to traditional conceptions of the audience. He examines the redefinition of the industry-audience relationship by technologies that have moved the audience marketplace beyond traditional metrics. Media providers, advertisers, and audience measurement firms now deploy more sophisticated tools to gather and analyze audience information, focusing on factors rarely considered before, such as appreciation, recall, engagement, and behavior. Napoli explores the interplay between political and economic interests in the audience marketplace and their effect on audience evolution. He recounts the battles waged between stakeholders over the assessment of media audiences and their efforts to restrict the functionality of new technologies. As Napoli makes clear, the very meaning of the media audience continues to evolve in response to changing technological, economic, and political conditions.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52094-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION (pp. 1-24)

    Much has been made in recent years of the many ways in which the media environment is undergoing dramatic change. We know, for instance, that the explosion of Web sites, the proliferation of television channels, and the emergence of new content-delivery platforms—ranging from hand-held devices, to satellite radio, to on-demand and interactive television services—all are contributing to exponential increases in the fragmentation of the media environment. We also know that new media technologies are providing media audiences with unprecedented control over the media consumption process. From the time-shifting and commercial-skipping capabilities of the DVR, to the personalization of...


    Although this book focuses on the contemporary dynamics surrounding the evolution of media audiences, it is important to recognize that audience evolution is an ongoing process that is likely to persist into the future (when appropriate conditions are present) and that extends back into the past. This chapter looks backwards, aiming to provide both theoretical and historical contexts for contemporary developments in the evolution of media audiences.

    Addressing these goals involves integrating two distinct bodies of literature, which have seldom been brought together. The first of these is the literature on media evolution. Media evolution in this case refers to...


    It is fairly well known at this point that the media environment is changing dramatically; that new technologies are providing audiences with more choice and control in terms of when, where, and how they consume their media; that these new technologies are providing increasing opportunities for audiences to interact with their media, to provide feedback, and to influence outcomes; and of course that today’s media consumers are becoming much more than consumers—they are producers and distributors of content as well. This chapter begins by laying out the basic contours of these technological changes and how they are affecting the...


    The previous chapter illustrated the many ways in which the technological changes affecting the media environment are simultaneously undermining traditional analytical approaches to media audiences and creating opportunities for alternative analytical approaches. This chapter focuses on these alternatives by exploring exactly how the changing technological environment, and the associated changing dynamics of media consumption, are feeding into ongoing innovations in audience information systems. These innovations frequently (though not always) take advantage of the interactivity inherent in the new media environment to produce audience information systems that move beyond the traditional exposure metrics that have long held the dominant position in...


    The previous two chapters have emphasized the technological forces that are in so many ways compelling media organizations to reconceptualize their audiences. This chapter shifts the emphasis to the broader institutional contexts in which these technological changes are occurring. Research on the social shaping of communications technologies has emphasized the importance of considering a wide range of social actors with the potential to influence the ways that technologies are used, the form that these technologies take, and the impact that they ultimately have (see, e.g., Boczkowski 2004b; Lenert 2004).¹ Interpretive battles are inevitably fought among these various actors (industry players,...


    In an interview with the trade publication Advertising Age, Alan Wurtzel, president of research and media development at NBC Universal, characterized the current state of audience measurement as a “primordial soup” (quoted in Steinberg 2008b:1). Wurtzel’s description of the tools that media organizations use to understand their audiences is certainly in keeping with the evolution analogy around which this book is structured. As this book has attempted to illustrate, the ongoing technological transformations in media consumption and in audience information systems are combining to produce an evolution in the nature of the institutionalized media audience in which the emphasis on...

  11. NOTES (pp. 175-192)
  12. REFERENCES (pp. 193-238)
  13. INDEX (pp. 239-248)

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