NBC News has been looking at its audience, and audience metrics. The traditional demographic audience breakdowns and ratings measures that advertisers have traditionally relied on when determining ad buys seem increasingly inadequate in the modern digital media marketplace. Facing this, NBC's sales and research teams have been working with outside research firms to develop a more appropriate way of differentiating audience types based on news consumption patterns and their interest in news.
There's a long history of trying to use consumer interests and behaviors to supplement or supplant standard demographic categories - and their usefulness is likely to increase as media markets and audiences increasingly fragment. Personas and other psycho-social or behavioral forms of defining and describing target groups of audiences can be increasingly useful as media and advertisers focus on targeting audiences. At least if they mirror the ways advertisers want to target consumers.In this case, NBC decided that news consumers cluster around of four basic "news personas."
- Veterans - consumers who primarily rely on traditional media as a trusted source
- Skimmers - those who aren't "passionately connected" to news
- Always On - news consumers who are constantly connected to news feeds across multiple media platforms and devices throughout the day
- Reporters - A segment of digital natives (those who grew up consuming content digitally) and who take pride in being able to break important news to friends and others. And in doing so, mimic the behaviors of traditional news disseminators.
What makes this more than a marketing story is NBC's announced intent to use "news personas" to develop new forms of news content and delivery mechanisms. Kyoo Kim, the vice president-sales for NBC News Digital, explained in an interview that the new personas focus is more than a sales tool for advertisers, but will guide how it develops NBC's digital news products. Specifically, they plan on creating new "native formats" that will begin to integrate news/editorial and brand advertising/promotional content. The goal is to integrate advertising messages seamlessly into NBC News digital newsfeeds - erasing the distinction between NBC News content and paid messages on their digital news platforms.
NBC News’ Kim says personas make more sense because they are based on actual behaviors and not arbitrary attributes that may or may not relate to the reason a consumer was experiencing media -- or brands -- at that time.
Still, I have two strong reservations about NBC's seeming focus on developing "native formats" mixing news and advertising content. First, I think that the identified four news personas are overlooking sizable blocks of news consumers - traditional news consumers who continue their news consumption habits, but are losing trust in those media outlets; those moderate news consumers who may have focused interest in certain types of news, but whose news consumption falls in the vast gulf between casual Skimmers and the heavy Always On news consumers; and digital natives with only a casual or moderate interest in news, and little interest in commenting on it or further disseminating it - just to name a few. NBC's four persona are an incomplete breakdown of the news consumer marketplace. And it raises the question of whether NBC News just missed that, or decided they weren't interested in reaching those segments of the audience
The second reservation is the intent to make online news efforts better and more efficient advertising outlets through integrating aspects of news contents or formats with advertising content. Developing new, efficient, and effective platforms for advertising can certainly help news organizations benefit from the growing online advertising market. Still, I worry that further blurring the lines between news, entertainment, opinion, and advertising can decrease the value of news to consumers - particularly to heavy news consumers. And if a large part of the value of the advertising spot is based on having committed and engaged news consumers, approaches like integrating news and advertising content isn't likely to be successful in the long run.
Personally, I'm not sure that NBC News is making a smart move with its Digital operations.
Source - NBC News Kills The Demographic, Personifies Its Viewers Instead, OnlineMediaDaily