Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences (Columbia University Press) is my new book about the changing relationship between media industries and their audiences. The book examines the various ways in which new technologies are changing the dynamics of how audiences use media, as well as the dynamics of how audience behavior is measured and monetized.
As the book illustrates, the present situation represents the perfect confluence of circumstances for dramatic shifts in how media industries and advertisers conceptualize audiences. On the one hand, technological changes are empowering and fragmenting audiences in ways that undermine traditional analytical approaches that have focused on audiences primarily as passive media consumers. The marketplace for media audiences long has been oriented primarily around basic exposure (i.e., how many people watched, read, or listened to a particular piece of media content) serving as the central currency. But now, in an era of very small and difficult to measure audiences (due to the fragmentation that has taken place across media), and in which audiences increasingly have the tools to avoid advertisements, being in the business of selling audience exposure is becoming increasingly challenging.
However at the same time that these technological changes are undermining traditional approaches that media organizations and advertisers have taken to audiences, these same changes are opening up new windows to understanding audiences, and facilitating the development of new analytical tools that are broadening established notions of audience value beyond traditional exposure-focused approaches. Today, media organizations and advertisers are increasingly focusing on concepts such as recall, appreciation, and engagement — concepts that go well beyond basic exposure in terms of how audiences are measured, valued, and sold. New criteria for audience value are entering the marketplace as the old system buckles under the weight of massive technological change.
This is the essence of the process of audience evolution, and these are the main issues that are the focus of this book, as well as the focus of this blog. The primary purpose of the blog is to continue the discussion with recent examples and issues that were not able to make it into the final draft of the manuscript that I completed back in March of 2010 (yes, good old-fashioned book publishing still moves a bit slow). Think of the blog as Audience Evolution 1.5, if you will.
I hope everyone who visits finds the blog of interest either as a useful extension of the book or on its own as a window into some of the fundamental changes that are affecting the media, advertising, and audience measurement industries today.
A bit about me (Philip M. Napoli):
I am a Professor of Communications and Media Management in Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business in New York. I am also the Director of Fordham’s Donald McGannon Communication Research Center, as well as a 2010 Knight Media Policy Fellow at the New America Foundation and a 2010-2011 Visiting Scholar at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy.
Audience Evolution is my fifth book. It is a follow-up to my 2003 book, Audience Economics: Media Institutions and the Audience Marketplace. I am also the author of Foundations of Communications Policy: Principles and Process in the Regulation of Electronic Media, the editor of Media Diversity and Localism: Meaning and Metrics, and the co-editor of Communications Research in Action: Scholar-Activist Collaborations for a Democratic Public Sphere.