Friday, October 07, 2016

car jamming

The latest OzTAM Multi-Screen Report for Q2 of 2016 indicates that television’s reach overall is dropping year on year – Q2 2015 reporting reach at 88.3%, and the current report at 88.1%.

Yes, a whole 0.2%.

More interestingly, Mumbrella’s coverage of the report takes some care to point out that TV viewing among younger audiences is experiencing continuous decline.

Indeed, the ‘hardest hit’ demographic is the ‘advertiser friendly’ 25-39 bracket, which PLUMMETS from 84.2% reach last year to 81.8% this year.

Reporting of this nature like brings to mind the classic ‘Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction’ psychology study by Loftus and Palmer (1974) on response-bias and adds some further credence to the suggestion by some commentators – notably Professor Mark Ritson – that there appears to be a media imbalance towards ‘reporting’ the ‘decline’ of so-called ‘traditional’ media in favour of ‘digital’ despite lack of proper evidence.

Loftus and Palmer’s experiment involved showing groups of participants some films of traffic accidents.

After watching the film they were asked to describe what had happened as if they were eyewitnesses.

Among the questions asked – and the key point of the experiment – was one specific question framed in different ways. Participants were asked to estimate how fast the cars were going when they either 'smashed', 'collided', 'bumped', 'hit' or 'contacted' each other.

In almost every case the participants’ estimation of speed was affected by the verb used.

Participants who were asked the ‘SMASHED’ question thought the cars were going FASTER.

The ‘CONTACTED’ condition reported the lowest speed estimate with the other conditions somewhere in-between.

In short, simply the verb used can influence the answer a person gives (a 'response-bias').

With this in mind one notices a type of response-bias priming all over the aforementioned news piece.

The ‘advertiser friendly’ prefix is curious - and something of an argumentum ad populum - given that it is fairly well established that the over 50’s account for close to half of all consumer spending, though I’m resisting the temptation to go all Bob Hoffman on this one.

(At least the m-word* was absent from the piece, so there’s some progress, I suppose.)

More worthy of some scrutiny is the curious use of the ‘plummeted’ verb to describe a relatively minor blip of less than 2.4%.

Because, in the very next breath, tablet and smartphone penetration are described as remaining ‘stable’ year-on-year, growing at 2% to 49% and 81% respectively.

So a 2.4% decline in TV penetration among under 40’s is plummeting, while 2% growth in smartphone/tablet penetration is ‘stable’.

Nicely done, response bias priming.

*snake people

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