The seductiveness and reality of new technologies for the next generation of electronic media

Date of publication: May 1, 1994


As communication technologies hurtle down the information highway, audience researchers increasingly adopt technology-based measurement. The lure of technology solutions seduces us from traditional paper diaries, from household tuning meters, from yesterday's state-of-art people meters. Does audience research require new measurement tools, appropriate to the evolving media, or should we just fine tune the current repertoire? This paper maintains that current measurement methods are not adequate to the challenges of the information revolution. We start with an analysis of new technology trends in the context of demographic and marketplace forces. From this analysis, we go back to the basics. We derive measurement goals to guide the selection of new methods and consider alternative approaches in light of these objectives. We conclude with an overview of one research program which addresses these goals, Arbitron's personal portable meter. Encouraging early results suggest that personal metering may surmount the impending information highway challenges.

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