MediaPost Media Daily News – http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=28835&passFuseAction=PublicationsSearch.showSearchReslts&art_searched=%22Academics%20Field%20Largest%20Direct%20Observation%20of%20Media%20Consumers%22&page_number=0

by Joe Mandese

A year after it released a breakthrough study indicating that consumers spend far more time with media than conventional media industry research has suggested, Ball State University is going back into the field with a much larger and far more ambitious second phase. The new phase, which is scheduled for the next six weeks, will be the largest and most detailed direct observation of how people actually use media. More than 400 people are being recruited as participants in this phase of the so-called “Middletown” studies, in which academic researchers were assigned to follow people throughout their media day, directly observing all of their media consumption. The first phase, which was released in February 2004 and was based on a sample of 101 people, surprised many media researchers–especially those on Madison Avenue–when it showed that mail- and telephone-based surveys significantly underestimate the amount of time people spend with media (see previous study’s findings, below). But because of its relatively low sample base, some researchers sniffed at the projectability of the findings.

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