For the past several years, media companies have faced profound challenges to their traditional business models. Advertising revenues, the traditional economic foundation of the media, began flowing into ever more diverse channels with the growth of internet-based alternatives to traditional advertising. As competition and the supply of lower-cost communication alternatives expanded, traditional media companies came under pricing pressures that further tested their foundational business models.
The course examines the impact of these disruptive changes on the methods used to measure and value ad-supported media audiences. It begins by reviewing the classic measurement approaches for print, television, and internet media and describing the traditional role of audience research in setting the commercial values for these media. It continues by considering the technology-driven transformations of those businesses – the digitalization of all media, the proliferation of distribution options, the rise of search and of social media, the disintermediating effects of ad networks and of behavioral targeting technologies. Each of these has induced changes in consumer behavior and required significant adjustments in the ways that media are measured and valued – changes that are at the core of this course’s focus. Finally, the course discusses the ways in which content-based media companies are responding to the challenges by trying to diversify their revenue streams, monetize their content assets in new ways, and generate new media metrics appropriate to the new economic requirements. The course also reviews the ways in which research is used by media companies to select content for development and to hedge risk – particularly in the development of television pilots for each new season.
The course is particularly relevant for students who intend to work in ad-supported media or in the fields of advertising or market research.
Scott McDonald was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 1999 to 2016.
David Poltrack was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2002 to 2016.