Research Techniques and Methods used by Media Industries

Using research in any media industry is incredibly important as it allows the industry to find out more about their customer and what their customer wants. This enables them to create a product that is right for their customers using the criteria needed to fulfil the target audience preferences. Different techniques and methods helps them to get the information they need to be able to create the perfect product for their individual target audience, for example, questionnaires can help find out basic information about a potential customer but a focus group can help pull out more information including their opinions and likes and dislikes of an existing product. Research also helps media industries to learn background information about their customers, i.e. how much money is more likely to be spent when purchasing a game and the target audiences average income which will give them an idea of how much to sell their game for and if the game is worth continuing depending on how much it is to develop.

In this report, I will be discussing how media industries use different research techniques and methods to receive feedback for their product, whether this be to improve the product itself or to decide whether or not the product is worth continuing and help them get enough for attention for the product in order to release it at its prime. I will cover the different research techniques and methods and explain them thoroughly, also listing the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

Types of Research

Depending on what type of feedback media industries want to know about their customer will tell them what type of research to use to gain the knowledge they need. 

There are many types of research but the two I am going to cover are qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative and quantitative research are very important to media industries because they enable you to get different responses out of a customer.

Qualitative research could be said as researching your customers. Qualitative research is finding out why someone may feel the way they do. For example, in a questionnaire a candidate may be asked why they prefer a certain genre of game or asking about improvements for previous games in order to make the new games fit well with what the consumer wants. Qualitative research helps developers understand what the consumer wants and give a more detailed explanation of how to improve and what the consumer may be expecting for the next game in the franchise.

An example of qualitative research is face-to-face interviews. Face to face interviews help to check the candidate’s facial expression when something is mentioned. As an interviewee may just be acting polite for the interview, watching the interviewee’s facial expression can help to get an actual, honest review on the product. This is more helpful than receiving blunt answers on the internet where people may not be willing to give genuine and thought-out answers, they may also rush their answers online as to rush the online interview and may not be as honest as they could be.

Focus groups are another example of qualitative research. Focus groups help to get individual opinions and then receive pros and cons of those ideas. Although focus groups are good, they may not be the best idea to get feedback as there is a possibility of people that may go along with the majority to be polite or not be able to get their own opinion in. There may also be someone who claims dominance in the focus group and therefore the results can lead to being biased.

Quantitative research is research purely using numbers and statistics to get information from consumers. Quantitative research helps media industries to get a quick summary of customer reviews and receive basic answers for example ‘yes’ or ‘no’; this type of research does not require explanations or detailed feedback and therefore lets the industry obtain feedback quickly. This research type is for explaining variables so they’re aware of what might have to change or what they thought would have had to but in reality, doesn’t have to as they may have strong customer feedback. Quantitative data helps to improve products and/or services and the best way to do this is to make sure the research groups are large enough to give reliable results. Quantitative research can help you answer basic questions which can help you understand if there is already awareness for your products and whether people would be interested to buy your product. It can also get their buying habits and how much they would prefer to spend on the product(s) you are selling.

For example, using statistics is quantitative data. A company can send out a questionnaire with simple questions and answers and use a tick box or tally chart to get results and then transforming those into percentages. The highest percentage, depending on whether it was a bad thing or a good thing, will have to change, or not change.

Another example would be telephone questionnaires. This is useful to quantitative research because most people on the phone will only do a quick questionnaire or they won’t do it at all, which makes it difficult to actually do. But when they do work, they can offer quick responses which can be included in research.

A final example can be using an online Omnibus survey. These are surveys that are quizzed online and a large, random amount of people are selected and asked and this helps the responses be more reliable and you can get some good feedback.

Methods and Sources of Research

There are different methods to getting research and also different sources. The methods can give you all different types of information depending on what it is the individual media industry is looking for. I am going to explain four different methods and sources of research.

 Primary data is very important in a media industry because it provides up-to-date and reliable information about a product or an opinion that has been taken recently and therefore has not been changed or altered. Primary data is also important because it fits the needs of the industry and answers the questions they need rather than taking lots of secondary data from different sources and picking out different parts. Primary data is research that you take yourself so they can’t really go wrong, you can also pay other people to do the research yet can be an expensive way.

 An example of primary data is a questionnaire which has been made by the industry. The questionnaires feedback will be new which will be more helpful.

 Another example is using face-to-face judgement, observing the person being asked, their behaviour can be useful for a media industry’s research.

A bad thing about this is people may be dishonest and biased.

 Secondary research is research that already exists and can be taken off of in the internet or bought. It is second hand research and can be important if there is not enough data, the industry may have of its own, as it can give required research on information that an industry may not be able to research. Secondary data may be biased though and may not give you all of the answers you need. You may also be sceptical of the reliability of the results as they may not be accurate or relevant to your questions. Secondary research may also be out of date and not represent statistics or answers of today and may be in previous years where the test has been retaken and therefore there are different answers.

Data gathering is where they take the information from the questionnaires or whatever method of research they have used and they put it all together and process it to know the overall data for the results from the questionnaire. This information can be collected from different resources such as electronic or satellite. A data gathering agency have the role to maintain the data for the company and keep it organised. The data gathering agencies help to understand the answers in the questionnaires or the other method of data collecting. It helps them find out research for the companies so they know where to advertise their products, examples of data gathering agency would be RAJAR which is used for radio so they know about the viewers and who is listening and another is Nielsen Ratings which is an American company which helps them see who watches what so the company for the product knows where to advertise their game.

Self-generated research means that the research was made by the person themselves and they didn’t get any help from it. They made the whole thing themselves spontaneously and then went on to get the research. Looking at your own work can be used as research purposes to help you with a next piece of work.

Purposes of Research

I am going to cover audience research, market research and product research.

Audience research is a communication type of research which gets information out of the behaviours of an audience. You can choose the audience to be in different groups which could be dependent on age or gender; this is called profiling and can help with profit. Demographics can also help narrow down a target audience. A demographic graph takes the populations adults and finds out the work they do and their income and puts them into different groups such as A, B, C, C1, C2 and D. (example graph to the left) They choose their target group from the graph, for example, if they were creating a game based around a more creative genre with good graphical designs, the game may fit into the B criteria and therefore they would choose their target group from there, but a manual worker may also be interested if it includes, for example, building or fixing, or semi-skills, it may also fall into the C2 or the D band, which can give the target audience a variety. This is why audience research is very helpful because it can tell a media industry who is more likely to be able to use their game and/or product. They can then also decide depending on whether, for example, a female group preferred the game more and then they can get feedback from the male group who weren’t as keen on either how to improve or they can keep it as a game more towards female. Or, they can have an audience on age so they can tell which age group their game more supports. The audience can also be grouped into their geo area which is called geo-demographics. Audience research can be referred to as formative or elicitation research. Audience research helps as at the end of the product to see whether or not it would fit in with its target audience. This is usually the last research step and can tell the industry whether or not the product is suitable for selling or needs to be altered to go with its target audience. Audience research can also be done before marketing as to see which group is more suited towards. Surveys and interviews are examples of audience research.

 Advantages of audience research include the public already being aware of the product which is marketing itself as well as making sure all the improvements to the game that can be made are made and helps production and developing get the best out of the game before the final version is released. Audience research can also help the industry understand what genre their audience likes to be able to continue the franchise and get a better idea for a next product. They can also see how well a product may be sold based on the reactions of the target audience, and can see how those who are not in the target audience react to the product. It can also help to test whether or not the audience understands the games’ backstory as well as they should and whether or not they may need to rephrase or go about retelling the games’ backstory in another way. Audience research will also help to tell how people feel about the product and can help with relevance of information or what goes on in-game, relevant conversations between characters or relevant (or irrelevant) weapons and/or items.

 Disadvantages of audience research are that this type of research does take a long time to set up and find people for. Finding people who want to test it out for bugs or for improvements may be hard to find and then still, their answers may be biased as they are most likely going to say their opinions but ensure they are based around social standards of today. People may not be keen on telling their initial thoughts and going along with a more, either intimidating, or confident person may be more fitting for them. Participants also tend to be small amounts and selected for a reason and not randomly.

Market research is a collection of data about a target audience and the competition. Market research is very useful because it can make sure that the target audience likes the product and finding out whether or not they would actually buy the product. If a company within the industry decides against using market research, they can risk producing and marketing a product which may not be successful and therefore they may lose out on profit. The product market is different products that have already been marketed and sold, the industry can research into this to help figure out what is already out there and what isn’t and what can be made similar to get the same attention. Market research can also be done by advertising research as the company can put the advertisement out and can see who clicks on it which would most likely be the target audience. Market research can be obtained by surveys, which is a cheap, quick and easy way of getting data but there is a high risk of the questionnaire not being done, questions not fully filled in and unreliability. 

 The advantages of market research are that it lets the developers know whether or not the product has any potential and will go anywhere with the target audience. It not only helps to see their competitors but also their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and emerging trends. Knowing their competitors and any emerging trends will help the company stay ahead of them and therefore come across as the better company for their target audience, giving them a good reputation.

 The disadvantages of market research are that getting the information can be expensive and take up a lot of the company’s time. There are also usually limited volunteers to test out the products which may mean less of the target audience the company is trying to reach out to.

Product research is another example of market research although it provides information about the product which therefore makes it its own type of research. It is an important part of the market research and is used on new ideas and can save money instead of just letting the product out and watching it fail. Product research can be done by getting volunteers from your target audience into a focus group so they can come up with different ideas, improvements and can help you understand their audiences’ current market. This is helpful because it can be quicker as it gets more people in but it may be difficult finding relevant volunteers. Another way could potentially be face-to-face interviews as testing the volunteers’ reaction could appear to be vital and asking them directly about the market and what they think will let them be more confident about telling you as focus groups can be intimidating. The downfall of face-to-face interviews is that even though you can test the reactions, people may not be as reactive and they could lie to help your product and appear polite.

 Product research helps the developer develop and then market a game which may be in demand and not yet have been created. By being able to see this, it gives the target audience what they want and more chance of them creating a profit from it. Product research can help the product be modified to suit the consumers’ needs, so they can look at existing products and then see where that product didn’t meet expectation which the developer can use to their advantage.  Product research also helps to widen the target market and more marketing helps to get the product out and reach audiences that it may not usually reach. Product research also helps to expand on sales making sure they reach the most they can. 

 The expense of product research can also be a lot for a company who haven’t got profits yet and for a start-up company it may not be what they can afford. If a start-up company used product research it may be to their advantage at first but could become more of a disadvantage if a well-known company also releases something at the same time as the start-up company as it can take the attention away from the start-up company as the target audience may be more trusting of the well-known company and expect them to be better so less of the potential target audience volunteer for the larger company. 

In the industry, no matter type of research they may use, there will always be certain people who won’t be able to successfully complete it. The company must be aware of any disability that volunteers in their target audience may be experiencing. This can be due to blindness and deafness for example which needs to be taken carefully with the industry to make sure they are not excluded. For example, a questionnaire or survey may be quick and easy for a company to make and send out, but blind people may not be able to fill out the questionnaire so for them, there will have to be an alternative, such as the questionnaire in braille or someone, personally, coming to their homes and asking them the questions. Focus groups can be hard for deaf people but can be made easier having things wrote down or having people to sign what is being said. The language barrier may also be a problem for people who have volunteered and therefore the surveys must offer different languages or during a focus group, have a translator who can explain and translate. 

In conclusion, the media industry uses different research to help them advertise their product as well as sell it to not only their target audience but other audiences who may become interested after the product has been marketed and promoted. The different techniques become more important throughout the development and advertisement of a game or a product because it pushes the product as far as it can go.