The focal point of my recent trip to Finland was delivering the opening keynote of the From Audiences to Users and Beyond conference. I titled my presentation Audience Evolution and the Future of Audience Research.
The main thrust of the presentation was that the various changes that I chronicle in Audience Evolution that are affecting the dynamics of media consumption and the nature of audience information systems are creating something of a critical juncture in the academic field of audience research.
Specifically, I argued:
a) that traditional ratings analysis needs to move beyond audience exposure and extend into the new forms of commercial audience data that are being produced that examine other dimensions of audience behavior (such as recall, engagement, and emotional response);
b) that there is a rare window of opportunity for those audience researchers who have pursued more qualitative approaches to understanding media audiences to make a significant contribution to how media organizations understand and value their audiences;
c) that the nature of the key questions about contemporary media audiences has the potential to inspire — and indeed requires — more cross-pollination between traditionally disparate audience research traditions.
Rather than elaborate on these ideas in more detail here, I’m going to punt to the video of the presentation, which has recently been posted online by my hosts at Aalto University, who took great care of me during my time in Helsinki.