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What is Mass Media Research? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

In this lesson you will learn about mass media research and why it's important. You'll learn how all-encompassing mass media has become and the reasons that this research is performed.

What is Mass Media Research?

If you use social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, go online or watch television you are involved in mass media. And if you've ever said yes to an internet prompt that asks if it is okay to collect your browsing history so they can better adapt the ads to suit your needs, then you are actively participating in mass media research. Put simply, mass media research is the study of information related to any form of mass communication. Mass media includes television, internet, and social media. Newspapers and magazines are also considered mass media if they have a wide enough reach.


Television is one form of mass media
mass media research


Why is it important?

Why do people want to study mass media? Well, there are many questions to answer. Many businesses are trying to target advertising, but some people are also concerned with the well-being of a very plugged in society. Businesses study mass media to see which form of mass media produces the greater result for its advertisements. In contrast, from a public health standpoint, studies have been performed to see what kind of effect watching TV violence has on children. From these studies, parents and educators know that watching too much violence on TV may make children more violent. Parents can use this information to limit the amount or type of television their children watch. Thus, the purpose of mass media research is mainly for business purposes and for public health reasons.

When used for business purposes, mass media research is important as it helps businesses figure out which forms of advertising work. Businesses want to see more sales, so mass media research for business focuses more on conversions, the number of people watching or reading a mass media form and then turning into customers. This is important as the numbers found through mass media research helps the business decide whether a certain form of advertising is financially worth it.

For example, to advertise on an animal channel costs $1,000. The animal channel tells you that they have over 4 million people viewing the channel each day. Your advertisement only takes up 30 seconds of the day, so your potential audience is significantly less than that 4 million. It may be only 500,000. Your own market research tells you that of those who view your commercial, 2 percent will become customers. That means you'll get 500,000 * 0.02 = 10,000 customers from your commercial. If this is enough to recoup the cost of the commercial and to provide enough profit, then this form of advertisement is worth it. Businesses can also use mass media research to help figure out how customers view their product by looking at what they are posting about the business online.

Mass media research for health and well-being reasons is important as scientists are still learning about how technology is affecting people in both positive and negative ways. For example, with the increasingly prevalent use of smartphones, some scientists are concerned that the increased exposure to radiation will negatively impact people's health. Is this true? This is something that scientists are still trying to figure out through mass media research. Another example is studying the effects of young people using social media instead of communicating with people face to face. Scientists are seeing these younger people experiencing more loneliness than people who don't depend on social media as much.

Impact

Because mass media is everywhere, the research is also everywhere. You can say that mass media research impacts many aspects of people's lives. Most internet providers and internet search engines, for example, track how their users use the internet. This is part of mass media research. Keywords are being logged. That's how the search engines know what topics are of interest to people in different parts of the world. That's also how you can see an ad for something you just searched for (searching for vacuum cleaners and then seeing ads for vacuum cleaners on other sites you visit).

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