CRE to study ethnography of viewing habits

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CRE / Council for Research ExcellenceThe Council for Research Excellence has hired GfK for two ethnographic studies to understand the impact of internet technology and video platform proliferation on video viewing practices.  The studies are designed to help researchers understand the impact of increased video availability across a growing number of devices and how people think about and consume video.


The research teams will seek to find out how audience measurement needs to evolve to take into account increased complexity in viewing.  This includes variables by device, usage location, viewing circumstances (such as solitary vs. group viewing), demographics and lifestyle factors.

The studies will encompass viewing via TV sets, PCs/laptops, connected TVs (gaming consoles, smart TVs, set-top-boxes, wi-fi enabled devices), smart phones, tablets, personal gaming devices and DVRs.

The announcement was made by Cheryl Brink, VP, Digital Research & Analytics at Scripps Networks and chair of the CRE’s Digital Committee, and Laura Cowan, Research Director of LIN Media and chair of the CRE’s Media Consumption & Engagement Committee; their respective committees are overseeing various aspects of the two-year effort.

Said Brink: “We should be able to answer these questions:

• ‘How is the role of video in everyday life changing?’

• ‘What does this mean for advertisers’ ability to connect with consumers?’

• ‘As the population mix continues to change, what trends should we expect to see?’”

The studies encompass a two-year ethnography and a supplemental “acceleration” study to examine potential future consumer behavior. The GfK team will seek to uncover consumer decision-making about rapidly evolving technologies by accelerating adoption of the newest devices.

Researchers will visit each of some 150 participating households at least once.  In many of the homes, researchers will use small “fisheye”-lens cameras to record behavior, later tagging interesting video footage.  Participants also will be provided a video-journal “toolkit” including software enabling them to record their viewing habits.

“The CRE’s Video Consumer Mapping Study focused on viewer behavior in the pre-tablet era of 2008,” Cowan said.   “The purpose of the current ethnographies is to understand why audiences consume video on specific devices in 2014.   The studies are designed to generate insights to improve audience measurement. This glimpse into technology adoption, including the consideration process of a consumer when buying new technology, will help us guide methodology by staying ahead of device usage, including what methods are being used to receive content.”


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.