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In which I demonstrate why I had to get out of marketing before homicide or brain tumor ensued - It seemed like a good idea at the time... [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
terribleturnip

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In which I demonstrate why I had to get out of marketing before homicide or brain tumor ensued [Aug. 20th, 2008|08:18 am]
terribleturnip
I joke about killing off decent formats and television shows. And it IS a joke and I don't actually believe...although I have been known to choose to just wait until it comes out on DVD so that I don't kill it prematurely. I've been trying to watch Pushing Daisies out of the corner of my eye...maybe if I don't look directly at the screen.

But it's really because there's effectively only ONE method of judging the viewership of a program/station and that's Abitron for radio and Nielsen for television. And they both suck. Sorry, guys, but your methods are flawed. They're slowly creeping into the modern century, but until fairly recently, they tracked viewer/listenership by paying (or not even that) people to write down what they watched/listened.

Everyone who thinks that people can be relied on to remember to fill something out on a daily basis, be accurate about it and not lie in order to skew the results in favor of their favorite shows, raise your hand.



Now, let's make it worse -- what kind of person says "oh, yeah, for $25-$50 a month, I'll totally keep this diary and keep track of every time I turn on the television set/radio, write down what I'm watching, the time..."? Sure, there are a few of us who would do it out of a sense of duty. And frankly, at this point in my life, the $50 would come in handy. But really, folks in a higher income bracket, or time-starved people....not so much. So, who does have the time and need the money...the people who watch fill-in-name-of-crap-television-show-of-your-choice-here, that's who. You do get someone who's more educated (not a direct correlation on an individual basis, but on a nationwide basis), more likely to watch shows that take a brain and a sense of humor that evolved beyond 8th grade...and they're going to fudge a bit. Put down a little more PBS than perhaps they actually watch. They're going to look at that diary and see that they spent 20 hours a week watching television and think "oooh, I don't really watch THAT much television, I'll just erase this one here..."

(If you think that even good and true and normal people are always honest, tell me about your driver's license. Men, if I back you up against a wall (hang on, I'm grooving on that thought for a minute) and measure you, will you REALLY be as tall as your driver's license said? Women, are you going to give me some story about how at the time, that's what you weighed, but now you put on a few...

I'm not judging. My excuse is that if I put my real weight, they'll never believe it's me...'cause, er, ahem. It sounded reasonable in my head at the DMV, so LAME in type...and now I'm re-thinking. I should have put 250 pounds on my license so that the cop would say "wow, you lost a lot of weight!" But I digress.

Sure, there are meticulous, scrupulous people who would keep serious track, never fib, even a little. Do you really think they're watching the same shows YOU want to watch? I don't know who those people are, but I bet we couldn't sit on the couch and NOT fight over the remote.

Yes, yes, both services now have meters that track what's actually playing on your television. And even a small meter that you wear that catches everything you're exposed to. Which could be why there's more "smart" television nowadays...or not. Since they charge extra for clients to access THOSE numbers and I see signs that they're struggling to get people to

And of course, the stations themselves pander to the big survey periods, throwing it off even more. YOU probably are not going to change your schedule just because CrapShow is going to reveal who is the father of the alien's baby who gets shot as he's jumping over a shark in a dream. Sorry, dudes, but it's Pubsing/Pennsic/Trivia/Etc.

And really, if the advertisers weren't so slavishly devoted to these rating systems and too damn lazy to think about targeting their marketing campaigns to a very specific demographic...instead, mindlessly pursuing the male 18-34 group, who is most likely to spend their discretionary income on things they see advertised - beer, cars, computers. (You can't advertise whorehouses on television, I checked.)

(Disclaimer: I used to buy advertising for television and radio. It's true about the whorehouses, although I was able to buy ad time for psychiatric hospitals...how wacked is that? I can't convince you that you should come to my whorehouse and get happy, but I CAN convince you that maybe you're crazy...)

And I suppose it's also my fault for reaching a stage in my life where I'm frugal and have enough "stuff" so I'm a disappointment from an advertising point of view.

I actually can't piss and moan about this as much as I used to -- as ShowTime and HBO have realized that people will pay extra for stuff that's not Crap. And Netflix, and XM/Sirius and technology that allows you to download shows, programming, etc., have shown again, that a show can exist and be profitable without huge advertising dollars -- there's more incentive to produce stuff that doesn't suck.

But still -- the list of casualties...I forgot Six Feet Under, that show that was based on the Carl Hiassen book, lead character was a judge, married to an ex-Weekee Wachee mermaid...is so long, that I will continue to watch Pushing Daisies and other bits of quirkiness without looking directly at the screen.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: thatliardiego
2008-08-20 01:31 pm (UTC)
I was both an Arbitron and a Nielsen family.

We lied both times.
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2008-08-20 02:03 pm (UTC)
So did we, on Nielsen. One more liar and I believe that Nielsen and Arbitron would consider that statistically significant...
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[User Picture]From: lowlandscot
2008-08-20 03:06 pm (UTC)
I used to work on opinion surveys, and the rule of thumb is that if you really want people to give you accurate information about what they do, you don't ask "How often do you do so-and-so." You ask "How often do you think your next door neighbor does so-and-so." Especially if it's something people are ashamed they don't do, like recycling. Or watching educational TV.
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[User Picture]From: acroyear70
2008-08-20 05:10 pm (UTC)

proof of the survey as the ultimate lie

according to the Nielsen's (non-digital method), nobody ever watched Cinemax after 11:00pm.

so long as that statistic is conceivably accurate, the Nielsen's can and will never be trustworthy. :)

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[User Picture]From: giantsloth
2008-08-20 08:24 pm (UTC)
One of the things I used to do to make ends meet during freelance days was, I'd set up and run videoconferencing gear for marketing research focus groups. My take on marketing and advertising is pretty much in line with Bill Hicks, but being the in heart of the beast, watching it work, was perversely fascinating.
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