Media Researchers: Politics Ruins Everything, Including Media Research

Public perception about the inaccuracy of political polling during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections has contributed to a crisis of confidence for the survey-based research industry, especially media researchers, a roundtable of industry experts said Monday.

The roundtable, organized by media research vets Tim Brooks and Charlene Weisler as …

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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 6, 2021 at 12:35 p.m.

    Joe, two other factors---and important ones--- are who pays for the research and what is it used for. Media audience research of an ongoing nature is funded primarily by the media  and it's findings are used to sell ad time or space---with favorable results leading to greater sales. As the various research companies are in business to make a profit, they, not surprisingly, are heavily influenced by the needs and wishes of their primary customers---not to cheat by showing falsified data but, rather, to present a positive light on their findings. That's one reason why "atypical" holiday periods are not included in overall TV usage stats as they feature less activity and thus would pull down the average time spent levels slightly. That's why you have to do special tabs if you want to get a fix on the incomes of TV program viewers---as these usually show a downscale orientation to the audience profiles---so the data is there but you have to dig it out of the system---and many  buyers just won't bother. That's why the definition of audience, itself, is as broad as possible---like assuming that a person in a bar is "watching" every second while a TV set is turned on when this is detected via audio signals by a PPM he/she is carrying. Or defining magazine readership by asking respondents if they "looked into or read" a particular publication. Or assumming that an ad that appears on a digital media user's screen for a few seconds is "seen".

    In other words, the media audience surveys are tilted in the seller's favor---not favoring one seller over another but favoring the entire medium, in aggregate. And the buyers, who use these surveys are largely passive about this---something that was not true in the 1960s and 1970s. So if there is reason to make improvements in the media audience surveys---and I believe that this is the case----why aren't the buyers and their clients, the advertisers, up in arms and pushing for change? The reason is simple. They would have to pay up---advertisers in particular----and they don't want to.

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