Helping audiences to inform media programming in Algeria
"Audiences are at the heart of everything we do"
This is the BBC’s core value but it should also be central to any media organisation.
BBC Media Action research into the Algerian media landscape highlights key changes in audience preferences and the media sector.
Overall, it paints a picture of frustration:
- Young people, women and regional audience members do not feel their needs are being met by the media and want content that better reflects their lives and interests.
- Young people and women feel there is a lack of media content relevant to them. The youngest audience members (aged 16–19) feel this most strongly.
- Audience members feel that there is little objective political coverage.
- Women want more content that resonates with them in a format that they enjoy.
- People in Algeria want media programmes that focus on solutions rather than just discussing problems.
- Algerian people do not feel that the media facilitates constructive discussion between different sections of society. Similarly, they do not think the media helps to reduce tension between different political, cultural and socio-economic groups. Creating space for this could support social cohesion in the country.
- Algerians want more accurate and impartial news and current affairs coverage and a media that holds their government to account.
This indicates that the mainstream Algerian media is not reaching its largest potential audiences: young people and women. This microsite focuses on how Algerian media can work to attract and engage these two groups.
Attracting young audiences is particularly important, as approximately 45% of the Algerian population is under 25. While men and women make up equal proportions of Algeria’s overall population, women feel particularly under-represented by the media.
Young people and women in Algeria primarily use social media for their news, information and entertainment. Television is their most trusted traditional platform, but they are wary of newspapers and radio stations. Many like social media because it is quick and easy to engage with, diverse and spreads people’s opinions further.
CIA World Factbook. 0–14 years: 29.49% (male 6.3 million/female 6.0 million). 15–24 years: 14.72% (male 3.1 million/female 3.0 million). Available at: https://www.cia.gov/
Why understanding audiences is important
To adapt to modern audience demands, media organisations in Algeria need to make more social media content. Doing this effectively requires a greater understanding of their target audiences.
Positive audience reactions and responses to media content are the foundations of media credibility and trust. To reach and engage with audience members effectively, media organisations need to understand who they are, how they consume media and how they communicate.
This understanding will help media organisations to develop an editorial style and approach that makes their content and delivery relevant to target audiences, helping to build and retain audiences. It will provide insights and angles into issues, talking points and lifestyle content that underpins audience members’ daily lives. As audience members change how they perceive and use media, this understanding will help media organisations to adapt in response to these changes.
Media organisations in Algeria need to adapt to the needs of new audiences, especially young people and women. Meeting this challenge requires media organisations to diversify their platforms, and rethink their editorial approaches and resources to attract key audiences. For example, successful newspapers target online readers more than print readers, using interactive content such as quizzes, multimedia elements and enabling comments.
BBC Media Action’s research underlines the need for Algerian media organisations to develop social media platforms and content that reflects the lives of young people and women, and engages them. The question is not how to attract these audiences to a particular media outlet. Instead, media organisations need to consider re-editing and refocusing their stories and taking that content to new audiences.
People are attracted to media outlets that reflect their lifestyle, play their kind of music, and talk about the things that interest them, in a way they can understand and interact with. This means there is no single media style or approach that suits all audiences. For example, what is interesting to a man in his mid-forties will probably seem slow, boring and irrelevant to his 18-year-old son.
Audience members exist inside groups defined by their age, interest or lifestyle. And as people change, their habits change. They may defect to other media platforms or other sources of news and entertainment. Technology, internet developments and smartphones have had a big impact on people’s media habits.
Understanding the target audience helps media organisations to produce distinctive content. Most media content draws on common sources including press agencies, press officers and press conferences. How reporters approach those stories is what makes their content distinctive. Understanding their audience’s needs and interests helps reporters find and develop a story angle and identify where to go for reaction.
Having a good understanding and connection with their audience members helps media producers to identify examples in a story to show its meaning and impact on a personal level. This is local media’s true strength because it is, by definition, much closer to its audience than national media. Giving audience members a voice in media content helps to build relationships with them, leading to greater media trust and credibility.
Building stronger ties with audience members helps to adjust media content and the news agenda to meet public needs. In turn, media organisations become less reliant on shared sources, and audience members become a key source of content. Reactions and talking points can be tracked through social media, helping to strengthen understanding and engagement between media organisations and their audiences.
Media platforms differ and cannot be treated in the same way. Media organisations need to do more work to reach different audiences – formatting, telling and editing stories in ways that suit different platforms.
Generating media content without gauging audience members’ interests, solely promoting existing programmes or reusing content made for one platform without editing it for another will have limited success. Media organisations must stop relying on mainstream media outlets, and diversify to social media and other platforms. This requires careful editorial planning and processes.
Trying to attract young people to media content traditionally favoured by older people is virtually impossible. For example, Radio One, the BBC’s leading youth radio station in the UK uses just 17 seconds of a particular content style in its non-music content before changing to another style.
Non-youth breakfast programmes, on the other hand, change their sound or pace roughly every three minutes. Short attention spans for Facebook and social media content seem constant around the globe. A video on social media should capture the viewer’s attention in 3–10 seconds and should arguably last no longer than a minute.
Understanding target audiences forces media organisations to think harder about their relationship with people. At the BBC, this led to developing editorial guidelines and values that offer practical guidance to help maintain trust and demonstrate how the BBC reflects key audiences at all levels. This includes being fair, accurate, balanced and objective. There is also a strong focus on how to work appropriately with children and young people, including how certain types of programming can influence behaviours.
Steps to create audience-informed programming
Draw a picture of the people you want to reach through your media content, identifying
- Their fears and concernsIssues affecting their daily life
- Their hopes and aspirations
- The language they use
- What interests them
- How they access media content and when.
Repeat this exercise for the people you want to reach via social media, including how they access it (on a phone, tablet or laptop).
Display your findings where they can be seen and refer to them regularly. When developing your media content, ask yourself: how would your target audiences react to it?
Create more opportunities for audience members to share their opinions and engage with each other, such as via radio or television phone-ins, or comments on newspaper articles. Social media sharing has stimulated a greater desire for comment and expression from audiences. On social media, people can quickly have a say on, or engage with, many topics by just clicking “like” or typing a quick comment. As well as investing in building and curating your social media presence, try to reflect this approach in your other media channels.
Actively diversify your platforms and build links with new audiences. You cannot wait for new audiences, particularly young people, to come to you. But be careful that your efforts to attract new audiences do not put off your existing audiences.
Continually review your style and language to appeal to your target audience. For example, young audiences used to social media demand more dynamism than platforms traditionally designed for older people.
Using BBC Media Action’s data portal
BBC Media Action’s data portal houses interactive survey data and research reports from different countries, including Algeria.
The data portal is open-source – please use the data and analysis to understand how to reach people, get to know your audience and develop better communication and media content.
The Algerian data focuses specifically on the media landscape. Exploring the data can help you answer questions such as:
- How are people using TV, radio, mobile phones and the internet?
- What information sources do people trust most?
- What broadcast times are best to reach young women?
- What kind of programmes do young men like most?
There are also some data visualisations and an animation that summarise some of the key findings.
To explore the Algerian data, select ‘Algeria’ here then choose a question you would like to answer. This leads you to sub-questions. Once you have chosen a question, you can filter the data by attributes such as age, gender, region, location (urban/rural), income level and education.
Practical example of using the data portal
The Resilience data illustrates how people feel about climate and environmental changes. For example, you can explore people’s biggest concerns.
Take the following steps to explore this data
1 . On the data portal home page, click on ‘Theme’ and select ‘Resilience’.
There are a number of countries with resilience data. To view results by country, click on ‘Explore data’ on the left of the page. This will display all the countries available.
2 . Select the country that interests you, for example ‘Bangladesh 2016’.
3 . Select the question, for example ‘How do people view their lives?’.
You will see a list of sub-questions. Select ‘How do people feel their lives are?’, then ‘Out of the following list, which is your biggest worry at the moment?’.
4 . When you click on this question, you will see a chart showing the data. If you want the data in an Excel file, click on the ‘Export CSV’ box.
To explore the data further, you can split data by:
- Data time points – to compare the latest dataset with previous ones (only available for some datasets).
- Education level
- Media exposure level
- Level of purchasing power
- On the top left of the chart or graph, you will see an ‘Add break’ box. Click on this box to display a list of available demographic variables, for example age, gender, occupation or audience.
- Select a specific demographic variable, such as ‘gender’, to see the results for that question from both men and women.
- You can add an additional variable, for example if you want to look at what young women aged 18–24 worry about, by clicking on the ‘Add second break’ box.
- You can clear previously added break variables at any point by selecting ‘Clear break’ in the ‘Add break’ box.
You can export data at different stages, such as top level or after adding one or two break variables. Click on the ‘Export CSV’ box for an Excel file containing the relevant data.
You can print the data by clicking on the ‘Print’ box.
The number of respondents and question text are shown at the top of each chart or table. The questionnaire and methodologies used to get the data are available in the related tools section.