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Learning Object: Dallas W. Smythe's "On The Audience Commodity and Its Work"

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Geanne Flores

on 25 November 2012

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Transcript of Learning Object: Dallas W. Smythe's "On The Audience Commodity and Its Work"

On the Audience
Commodity and Its Work Basically: The Audience Commodity The Audience Work References: Media sees the audience as the following:
A commodity to be sold.
A workforce of some sort. The Audience becomes a commodity when they are exposed to advertising. Advertisers present a "problem" to the audience.
This problem can only be solved by purchasing a certain product.
The audience considers purchasing the product. Smythe, D. (1981). On the Audience Commodity and Its Work in Durham, M. and Kellner, D. Eds. (2001), Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks. Malden: Blackwell Publishing. How does that happen? This is you.

You think you consume media. You watch television.

You listen to radio.

You read magazines and newspapers.

You surf the net. TV Ratings are not just a way of knowing:

"What show is watched by more people?" It's a way of advertisers to figure out:

"Which shows are watched by which people
and what do I sell them?" Of course, you might be thinking... I'm not buying what they're selling, anyway. But they're not after a direct effect... A Learning Object on Dallas W. Smythe's Prepared by:
Geanne Flores They don't intend to have you buy the
product right now.

But as long as they can send the message "Hey, this product exists." to audiences, that's alright. By looking at ratings, advertisers can buy into a time slot where their target market is. Media does not actually sell the TIME SLOT to the advertisers:

It sells the people who are watching at that TIME SLOT. You're the one treating media as a COMMODITY, right? WRONG. Does that mean that audiences are homogeneous? Of course not. They fall into two groups: 1. "Those produced in connection with marketing consumers' goods." Consumers' goods, on the other hand require more advertising. 2. "... and those for producers goods." Buyers of producers' goods are usually big institutions which do not buy on a whim, but rather because they need to.

As such, advertising producers' goods isn't exactly a priority for advertisers. 1.Homogeneous Package Goods, or HPGs There are two kinds of Consumers' goods: 2. Durable Consumer Goods Goods which are common, easily consumed and relatively cheap--- for instance, soft drinks, candy, soap, food, etc. Goods which are a bit pricey, and long-lasting: i.e., cameras, laptops, mobile phones, etc. Advertisers rely on the probability of their target market or a potential consumer tuning in on a particular time slot. The "Audience Work"
described here is the actual process of creating a 'need' of a particular product. And by 'need', we mean:
The need to purchase a product, associating it with solving a particular problem, then making a habit out of it. That, or the simple 'taking a chance' with the product. Paradoxically, 'leisure time' becomes 'audience work time' because of advertisements cutting into the daily lives of people 'consuming media'. Through audience commodity, your audience work time (or labor time)-- the time you spend on leisure-- is sold. "Pantene 2012 Filipino TV Commercials ( Angelica Panganiban )"

Source: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHMpaUf0x78) Problem?
Unruly hair.
How to solve it?
Buy conditioner.
Why buy it?
Because celebrities do. Illustrative example: If you think about it: Do you really need straight hair? Or have you just been made to buy a product? Video source:
YouTube: Pantene 2012 Filipino TV Commercials ( Angelica Panganiban )
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHMpaUf0x78)
Full transcript