What Knowing Audience Data Means in the Media Industry

The general practice all over the world is that data are not only measured through figures/numbers, but they are also measured through qualitative means. Whether qualitative or quantitative, data give policy directions to organisation and enable organisations to understand their present realities so as to determine the future of their policy-driven plans. Without data from an empirical and systematic enquiry, media professionals will only be speaking from the vacuum and overblowing their records. In order to ensure that the media really understand the “attitudes, knowledge, interests, preferences and behaviours” of their audiences, it is essential for media stations to go to the field and deliberately “find out the demographic and the psychographic characteristics of their audiences.” Findings from the field helps them understand their stations’ positioning directly from the consumers of their contents.

According to World Radio Map- a map that allows people to listen to FM and AM radio stations in major cities anywhere in the world-, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State houses twenty-five (25) FM stations. In a situation like this whereby pluralism of information becomes the norm, each radio station will always want to develop strategies that make it outshine others and stay more relevant in the midst of competition. Such strategies might include finding out how the listeners perceive the stations and their programmes? How do they want the radio stations to deliver their content? Do the listeners listen to the stations because of their media convergence philosophy? Who really are the stations’ listeners? Do the stations satisfy their audience’s needs? Answers to questions like these can only be ascertained if media stations adopt audience research as part of their station management techniques.

Interested in secondary gatekeeping as a research focus, Babatunde Raphael Ojebuyi PhD, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan, recently wrote a book to guide the staff of selected stations on how they could engage in audience research.     Titled Conducting Media Audience Research: A Guidebook for Media Professionals and Organisations, the book sponsored by the Institute for Media and Society (IMS) really served as a book that present a step by step approach of conducting audience research that could assist stations keep tabs on their audience.

The guidebook for media practitioners and organisations comprises six chapters that detail how media practitioners and organisations can conduct empirical and systematic audience research using modern approaches alongside the technical and linguistic variables to consider in conducting audience research.

The book also contains the author’s guided field experience of selected broadcast journalists he trained as well as an expose of both the qualitative and the quantitative approaches for conducting audience research. He explains the typology of each approach alongside their strengths and weaknesses. He also emphasises the research instruments that could be used to conduct qualitative and quantitative audience research, and stresses the importance of different sampling techniques available for audience research.

Download the guidebook here.

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