The researcher’s spread: new techniques for an old medium, old techniques for new media


It is an amazing time for media researchers nowadays. We can hardly cope with the speed by which questions are asked by our CEOs, marketing or sales people, and even editors who in years past were never eager for research.

So what’s happening?

I think we can bring it back to three big research questions:

  • What is the impact of digital media on print?

  • Which research is needed to defend the current position in print for readers and advertisers?

  • How can research departments organise themselves to find answers to the questions above?

I start in advance with some new research findings.

In times when advertising revenues of traditional print media are under pressure, I was pleasantly surprised by several research trends.

Despite an almost infinite possibility of Web measurability it remains for a vast majority of advertisers difficult to determine success of online campaigns, according to a survey by Adrime based on 420 agencies, operators and advertisers in The Netherlands.

The different ways to measure effects don’t make it any easier, Adrime said. The call for a standard is obvious, with visibility as a much better parameter for success.

Interestingly, visibility is something in which newspapers have a strong position. So if we can measure “visibility” or GRPs of our news Web sites, we can win the battle for the brand advertising campaigns of advertisers which is now the domain of TV.

Another trend blows over from the magazine publishers. They are still investing in research to convince advertisers of the strong impact of print. Major findings, but for all of us nothing new: “Ads in magazines are much better handled by the brains of consumers than the commercials on television.”

So what’s the innovation? Europe's first neuro-economic research. The context in which an advertising message is communicated is vitally important for the processing of those expressed by our brains. Magazine readers often feel connected to their favourite magazine. This reader-magazine relationship has a positive effect on the perception of the ads in the magazine.

Neurensics uses neuroscience techniques to identify the thoughts, motivations and consumer preferences. The advantage of this method is that not only conscious but also unconscious thoughts become visible. More and more behavioural research reveals that it is mainly those unconscious processes in our brains that stimulate our behaviour.

These findings give us hope that the battle is not yet won by the new media research and still lots of work can be done to defend print.

Both examples show us the spread researchers have to make in their daily work. New techniques for an old medium but still alive like print. Old techniques (measuring GRPs) for new media like online and mobile.


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