Fundamental Issues in Mass Media Audience Research
Keywords:Audience, Audience research, Audience segmentation, Media convergence, Mass media demassification.
The overriding influence of internet-enabled technologies has greatly disrupted the media ecosystem, resulting in new realities like audience segmentation, media convergence and mass media demassification. With the geometrical increase in the number of mass media channels, competition for audience and the growing culture of consumer sovereignty, the survival of the mass media is becoming more and more dependent on satisfying the diverse needs, tastes and preferences of the audience than ever before. Beyond the deployment of creative personnel and sophisticated media facilities, the key to satisfying the media audience lies on understanding the needs of the audience; such understanding basically comes through research. This article discussed the primacy of the mass media audience research and drew support from two theories: Active Audience Theory and Consumer Sovereignty Theory. It is a discourse in which data were mainly gathered from secondary sources like books, journals and other relevant recorded contents. While elucidating the concept of mass media audience research and its necessity, it identifies various forms of mass media audience research and offers a recipe for conducting one. The article also made an in-depth discussion of four challenges of mass media audience research. Findings revealed that audience research is indispensable in mass media practice. It is therefore recommended that for greater utilization of mass media audience research by media organizations, greater attention should be paid to the teaching of audience research by communication training institutions and greater interest in the learning of required mass media audience research skills by media professionals.