Before we move onto media specific audiences and how they are originally defined, let talk about the generic stereotypes and generalizations of audiences and specific targets.
Audience profiling is a method of research which is used to determine the factors of a specific audience, usually used to allow production companies or producers of any product the ability to research what type of people are more likely to buy/use their product, and in essence allow themselves the means to better fit that product to them. A quick example would be, “If we are researching as to who would like our horror film, we aren’t going to ask 14 year olds when the age limit is 18 and above are we?”
We’ll start with the small and easy, then move into the more refined.
Gender more often than not holds a large, and if not the biggest factor in a product. The world is made up of males and females by born gender, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean that the likes and dislikes are defined by gender, it certainly plays a huge part. “Barbie” is specifically designed for girls in mind, and “Action man” specifically for boys. While this doesn’t limit the other sex children from playing with the toys, the producers of such figures held gender specifically in mind when designing the products. Moving aside from a child perspective, TV Shows that hold to a certain genre will also hold in mind the majority gender that will watch their show. Many women are into romances or comedies, and such programs can hold this in mind and allow references that maybe women will understand more, and males stereo typically like action/adventure TV shows. These are stereotypes, and aren’t necessarily gender bound.
Age is the next big “Separation” That is usually one of the first questions asked by any survey, or one of the first things taken into consideration with general research. By splitting age into different sectors, we can immediately associate these age brackets with other possibilities within their life, allowing for more interpretation and planning. If we were to assume that the age range for people watching “Spongebob Squarepants” is age 5 to 15, we can also safely assume that the stereotypical child in this bracket would be attending school, and showing “SpongeBob” in the middle of the day would hold very few viewers. Specifically, this show would be displayed in the morning whilst the child is eating breakfast, and 4-7 as the child is returning from school or eating dinner. This also works vice versa, knowing that children are away in the middle of the day on a school day, allows further slots to be filled with programs which children might not understand, such as dramas or news coverage that would apply more to adults.
Sexual orientation and ethnicity.
This is a controversial topic, right here. The method into researching what someones regional identity or sexual orientation is something which can not only be abused, but can also spark offense in viewers or users of the product. Usually, this method of research is used in order to fuel shows which typically follow the life or feature someone who is of a specific ethnicity or sexuality. For particular shows which follow the life of someone whom is homosexual, they might spark up controversy for those who might be of a belief that thinks against such a sexuality – while this isn’t usually an issue, it is certainly a problem that must be thought out before the show is aired. However, when taken into consideration without including controversy, there are many shows which can be shown as having a substantially larger homosexual audience, such as Torchwood’s inclusion of Zachary Quinto.
Whilst this one is an odd one, its still worth mentioning. Because religion is specifically a belief (along with the belief that you are born with it) it does not hold ethnicity, age, or gender as a proportional value, however ethnicity does play a stereotypical part with some religions that originate from specific countries or continents. If we have a look at this map, (http://www.worldreligions.psu.edu/images/artimages/maps/worldmap.jpg for the img link), we can see that the majority of countries have a specific religion which makes up for the near entirety. There are some exceptions such as america and Russia, and this would play a trivial part to identifying an audience.
Some productions are aimed toward a specific market from the beginning, meaning that all previous elements of research must be taken into serious consideration, and in doing so allows for a variety of references or features that only this specific niche will appreciate. A good example of this are all of the Pixar films. Whilst their movies are very broad and are designed for anyone and everyone, they put in little Easter eggs that refer to previous or upcoming movies – further allowing the niche that are big fans of Pixar films to feel like they are being tended to a little more.
When in a specific genre, product or era – there will be a specific trend that a majority of the public will follow, recently this theme has been very zombie themed when it comes to movie productions, AMC’s the walking dead being a prime example along with “The War Z” being another, yet this trend is slowly phasing out into what seems to be a very comic book hero style of production, specifically within superman and batman – Man of steel and the Dark Knight rises.
psycho graphics is the study of a personality, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles. Because this area of research is very opinionated and is deemed specific and unique to every individuals, it is very useful for further researching a group of people that have already been stereotyped under a specific label. For example, if we have a group of people who love dramas, we can use psycho graphic data and research to see how varied these people are. Do they like the same things generally? do any of them have anything that stands out? Psycho-graphics are to do with individuals, and are widely shaped by their surroundings and the age – however this is not to be mixed with demographics.