How people consume video across various platforms, locations is focus of new study

Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Emerging Media

February 25, 2008

Ball State University has been commissioned by the Council for Research Excellence (CRE), an independent forum of media industry research experts created by The Nielsen Co., to conduct a potentially groundbreaking study in 2008, examining how individuals across the country consume traditional and emerging video platforms inside and outside of the home.

The $3.5 million project will be conducted jointly by Ball State's Center for Media Design (CMD) and Sequent Partners, a brand and media metrics consultancy. The project will establish current amounts of media consumption, focusing on television and video, in order to develop best practices in the area of video media measurement.

"The breadth and depth of the insights delivered by our observational method when applied on this scale will make a real and lasting contribution to the industry's understanding of how media consumption and use is evolving," said Mike Bloxham, CMD's director of Insight and Research. "The findings will provide an important platform for analysis and debate as the council pursues its mission to inform future best practices in cross-platform video measurement. 

"Ball State and Sequent Partners are extremely proud to be working with the council in this capacity on such a major and ground-breaking study." 

All day observation

Using the same observation techniques CMD staff members developed during the pioneering Middletown Media Studies I and II earlier this decade, researchers will shadow participants as they interact with media from the time they wake up and until they go to sleep.

Participants' actions will be recorded in 10-second intervals as observers categorize media exposure, life activities, location and attention. A sample of 350 people nationwide will be measured twice over a six-month period.

CMD also will observe 100 people in the Indianapolis area both before and after introducing a media acceleration process, a research method designed to help predict adoption and usage of emerging technologies and their impact on existing technologies.

Beyond television

The decision to proceed with a comprehensive study of media usage follows the successful completion of a pilot study by CMD and Sequent Partners in 2007. The pilot study demonstrated that full-day observation can produce a comprehensive view of a respondent's video usage and that it is possible to include in the study all relevant consumer segments, including high-tech respondents and ethnically diverse respondents.

"The migration of video usage beyond traditional television is an increasingly important issue for media companies, advertisers and their agencies," said Paul Donato, chief research officer for The Nielsen Co. "In a world where people increasingly watch programming online, on mobile devices and outside the home, this study will help us better understand how people are changing the way they consume media so that we can make informed decisions on how to measure it."

CRE was created by Nielsen Media Research in 2005 through a dedicated $2.5 million research and development fund. It was renewed for an additional $2.5 million in 2006 and 2007, for a total of $7.5 million. CRE serves as an independent forum for Nielsen to gain greater insights and to ensure that client priorities are reflected in Nielsen's research and development spending.

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