Data Doesn’t Lie: Uncovering What Your Viewers Want (No Matter What They Say)

media content testing

Even when prompted in focus groups, respondents often have problems articulating what they really feel. There are several biological and behavioral triggers at play that often thwart people’s best attempts to be candid and accurate about what they feel or thought the felt. In some cases, it can be recall or recency bias; in others, it can be “groupthink” or influencers in the group that can impede respondents from sharing their true opinions or compel them to fall in line even when their opinions differ.

These issues are not uncommon and can result in skewed findings that are then used to inform critical decisions about viewer behavior and media content.

One way to mitigate this is to use research approaches like dial testing that enable you to capture opinions and perceptions in the moment before they’re contaminated by recall, recency, groupthink, etc. Dial testing also has the added benefit of allowing respondents to respond to questions in anonymity in group settings, reducing the impact that others in the group could have on how they respond. Additionally, unlike gathering one single data point or a summarization after the fact, dial testing enables researchers to collect continuous, second-by-second feedback. So, researchers can pinpoint individual moments or segments that require further probing or investigation.

As veteran media and entertainment researcher Aaron Paquette said, “Dial testing can capture that visceral reaction in the moment, allowing researchers to understand what’s working and what’s not on a second-by-second basis, as well as the ‘flow’ throughout an entire piece. We use this deeper level of feedback to make editing decisions, remove entire scenes, reorder elements and quicken pace.  We also use this to ask thoughtful follow-up questions that can address moments of confusion, boredom or offensiveness.”

For those in media research, the stakes for getting inaccurate or incomplete research results are high. So, be sure whatever research approach you use, it is fine-tuned to reveal what your viewers really think, and not just what they say.

Want to see if dial testing’s a good fit for your next research project? Give us a shout.

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