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A Look into the Mass Audience Concept: Changing Mass Audiences Through Social Media and the Internet

Autor:   •  July 3, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  1,406 Words (6 Pages)  •  251 Views

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Allison Ehrhart

Professor Murray Forman

Media Audiences


A Look Into the Mass Audience Concept:

Changing Mass Audiences Through Social Media and the Internet

“A mass is unified by a common object of attention,” (Webster and Phalen, 7) but that does not mean that a mass shares a common experience while giving attention to that object. While masses are still brought together through a specific medium, the mass audience concept is incredibly dated. Webster and Phalen mention sociologist Herbert Blumer’s characteristics of “the mass” in their article, which are very narrow characteristics to describe audience members. All audiences share some sort of common ground – whatever medium they are an audience of – but not all audience members experience that medium the same way. Since the only common ground is overall media consumption, a person of different social strata would absolutely have different access and reaction to media. Audiences today are still very much unseen formations of anonymous individuals, but social media has improved this characteristic drastically. Since audience individuals are becoming less anonymous to one another, it is becoming easier for mass audiences to interact. Thanks to technological and societal advances, the mass audience concept is dissipating and social factors are beginning to be recognized.

One criticism of the mass audience theory is that it does not take different tastes into consideration. The Super Bowl will attract the largest mass audience of the year and everyone watching will have a common interest in being a part of the Super Bowl audience. Advertisers use the Super Bowl to target smaller markets by adding performers such as Beyoncé and creating hype over the high-quality commercials that will air. This brings those smaller “taste segments” into the larger mass audience, while still realizing that there are certain things that will attract certain viewers. Super Bowl advertisers are creating this hype by airing teasers of their commercials on YouTube before the game (Wasserman). For example, a new Mercedes-Benz commercial features supermodel Kate Upton washing its new car model: the CLA. This teaser ad on YouTube has already generated 5.4 million hits as of 2 p.m. ET on January 29 since being posted on January 21. Those 5.4 million views were all the same message; however, each viewer sees that commercial in a different light. This is evident by comments on the video.

According to YouTube statistics, members of this Mercedes-Benz commercial’s audience include Facebook users, mobile device users, news readers and blog readers, among others. Just the viewing method alone completely changes the viewing experience. With these different platforms, there cannot be a mass audience. All viewers are simply not receiving the same exact message the same exact way. For example, a mother viewing the commercial on a blog that goes on to discuss the way Upton looks in the commercial would have a totally different audience experience than a man in his mid-twenties viewing the commercial on his friends iPhone.


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