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Measuring the Audience

Audience Profiles

Audience profiling is an effective way for businesses, organisations and content creators to get to know who is buying their products and using their services. By grouping consumers together according to their background, behaviour and values, companies can develop better marketing strategies to connect with their target audience.

This profiling process often segments the audience according to demographic or psychographic factors. There are range of companies who specialise in quantifying the number of people who are consuming media products.

Measuring Television Viewers

The Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) collect data on the television viewing behaviour of people in the UK. The statistics they provide can help independent broadcasters, such as ITV, broker deals with the advertising agencies eager to show commercials during the breaks. Obviously, a slot during prime time will be more expensive than the daytime because the market reach will be much greater.

It is important to note, however, Netflix and Amazon Prime TV do not have to release viewing figures, so we rarely discover much detail about their audience reach and market share. This is because their business model focuses on people subscribing to their services rather than relying on advertising revenue to fund their programmes.

Radio Listeners

Radio broadcasters are very competitive and eager to learn about their market share. In the UK, Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) measure the number of people listening to each show. Again, that information can be used by the commercial sector to sell airtime to advertisers who want to target certain demographics.

Newspapers and Magazines

The National Readership Survey (NRS) delivered “authoritative and valued audience research” for “print and digital advertising trading in Britain” but they have been superseded by PAMCo who want to “better commercialise audiences across all platforms”.

Online Traffic

If you sign up to their tools, Google and Microsoft provide a massive range of metrics to help website owners understand their web traffic, including important demographic factors such as location and gender. For instance, here is age profile for this website:

Age profile bar chart
Taken from Google Analytics

Facebook and Twitter also track users and their likes and retweets. For example, you can discover more about the people who are engaging with your content in Facebook’s business dashboard. The amount of personal data stored in huge server warehouses has led to privacy concerns and how these companies exploit that information.


Media research companies are constantly devising new ways of tracking our viewing habits, especially in reaction to new digital technologies and a huge range of different platforms. Institutions want to know the size of their audience and these companies and initiatives try to collect that information. However, they are often measuring quantity rather than quality. For example, are you listening to the radio or a podcast while you are reading this guide?

For more information about audience profiles, you should read both our introduction to demographics and how agencies define the audience in terms of their psychographics – behaviour and personality.

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