prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for February, 2013

Violence and Media

Posted by prof e on February 16, 2013

Correlation does not prove causation. That is research-speak that calls into question the claim that watching violent movies or playing violent video games makes the player a more violent person. But despite the difficulty of finding causal links, the events at Newtown and other  scenes of gun violence will likely increase  funding for research that attempts to uncover connections between violent media consumption and violent behavior.

Here’s a video clip that frames the issue…

Even though most gun deaths are suicides and gang-related shootings, it is the mass shootings, such as the ones in Aurora and Newtown, that focus the public’s attention on violent video games and movies.

However, despite concerns about the media’s contribution to gun violence, most of the response from politicians has focused on certain types of guns and large-capacity magazines…much to the chagrin of 2nd Amendment absolutists. There are several reasons that may explain this. The first is because the media-violence link is still not conclusive in the minds of many researchers. And the other reason is something called the 1st Amendment and Freedom of Speech. Attempts to limit speech (content of TV, movies and video games) results in some pretty difficult legal challenges. Even before you consider the competing interests of the 1st and 2nd Amendments this is a difficult issue.


Posted in 1st amendment, media effects, research, videogames | 12 Comments »

The Eight Million Dollar Minute

Posted by prof e on February 2, 2013

youtube-superbowl-ad-blitz-gameCompanies who want to be a player in this year’s Super Bowl are going to have to pony up some serious cash…somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.8 million dollars for a 30-second spot.  That makes the Super Bowl the most expensive advertising venue out there. So why do advertisers continue to line up to get in the game? And what do they get in return for their money?

TV’s largest audience for starters. Nielsen reported 111.3 million Americans watched last year’s game. An advertiser would have to buy a 30-second spot in each of the nine top-rated network TV shows last week (American Idol, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, 60 Minutes, Criminal Minds, CSI, Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls, and the NFL Pro Bowl) to get a comparable number of eyeballs. Or, they could buy a 30-second spot in each of the 30 top-rated cable TV shows to get a similar “reach.”

But a Super Bowl spot is about more than raw numbers. There’s a certain prestige that comes along with being part of this American tradition. There’s also an indirect stock market gain for participating companies that is apparently part of the equation, at least according to a study reported in Kiplinger. There’s also the tradition of Super Bowl spots that live on in infamy. The 1984 90-second spot for the Apple Macintosh is still considered by many to be the greatest TV spot of all time.

And here’s another factor that some advertisers (and would-be advertisers) have exploited to their benefit. An ad that is controversial–too racy or racist for example–can ride the coat tails of the Super Bowl buzz at a fraction of the price it would have cost the advertiser to buy the time. These controversial spots can be uploaded to YouTube, or any of several other internet sites, and have a life of their own…even if they never aired! Go Daddy has played this game as well as anyone in recent years.

Mildly controversial spots can also benefit from all the talk…even if some of the talk is critical. Arabs are insulted by this year’s Coke spot…and Jamaicans are (or are not depending on who you ask) offended by the VW spot. I suspect some will be offended by the Kate Upton spot for Mercedes-Benz.

More and more advertisers are pre-releasing their ads to try to generate hype prior to game day…and often to good effect. Two years ago VW’s little Darth Vader spot was seen by more than 17 million viewers before it actually aired. Last year 34 out of 54 spots were released online before the game.

The other big news in Super Bowl ads is interactivity. Coke wants you to pick the ending of their spot. Doritos invited consumer-generated spots to compete, and then asked us to vote for the winner. And YouTube has their AdBlitz channel ready to go…inviting live voting on all the spots as they air. Which means for many of you the Super Bowl will be a two-screen experience. And with two screens, at least you’ll have something to do if the game is a dud.

Posted in advertising, interactive media, new media, tv | 18 Comments »