audience is the commodity that stations and networks sell to advertisers.
Television audiences are bought and sold and audience research is
the currency, if you will, that the industry relies upon to make
these transactions. From the television side of the business, the
goal is to sell as many ads as possible while at the same time charging
as much as advertisers are willing to pay. From the advertiser's
perspective, the goal is to buy time in programs whose audience
contains as many people as possible with the demographic characteristics
most desired by the advertiser. Advertisers want to buy these audiences
as efficiently as possible. In order to accomplish this task the
industry usually describes audiences and their prices in terms of
costs per thousand. This is simply the cost to purchase one or more
ads divided by an estimate of the number of people in thousands.
For example, if the cost for one advertisement is $300,000 and the
program audience estimate is 40,000,000 women, 18-49 years old,
then the cost-per-thousand is $300,000/40,000=$7.50. There are 40,000
one thousands in 40,000,000. In this example, an advertiser will
spend $7.50 for every 1,000 women 18-49 years old who watches the
program in which the ad will be placed. Audience research provides
the estimates of the size and characteristics of the audience that
the industry buys and sells.
The A. C. Nielsen
Company provides the audience estimates to stations, networks, program
producers, advertisers and advertising agencies. Employing probability
sample survey research methodology, Nielsen identifies which programs
people watch and how long they watch them. Printed reports and on-line
computer access allow Nielsen's clients to examine a detailed picture
of television audiences.
use this research information to locate the programs, stations and
networks that have large numbers of viewers with demographic characteristics
they desire. These characteristics are based upon other market research
that indicates the factors like age, sex, income, household size,
and geographic location of people who are most likely to purchase
and use their products or services. As they identify the significant
users and purchasers of their products, advertisers look for television
viewers with similar characteristics. These target audiences become
the focus of the deals that buyers and sellers make. The audience
research data helps identify the number of and characteristics of
the audience as well as the efficiency is conducted.
G.E. "Measuring Children's Television Viewing." In Advertising Research
Foundation, editors. Children's Research. New York: Advertising
Research Foundation, 1988.
H., and Schiavone, N. "Research at a Commercial Television Network:
NBC 1990. Marketing Research (Chicago), September 1990.