Cable Show 2011: Scripps to Pick Consumers' Brains

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Live from the Cable Show floor in Chicago, get ready for a dose of unfiltered feedback from American consumers about what they like -- and don't like -- about cable TV and media.

At the Cable Show, Scripps Networks Interactive will host two consumer focus groups, each with eight people selected from the Chicago area. The sessions will take place Wednesday and Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m. at The Park (booth 2231 on the show floor), and both will be led by Scripps Networks Interactive vice president of strategic research Karen Stump.

The first, "Consumer Voices: Digital Natives - Habits and Habitats of the Next Generation," will comprise a panel of 18-to-29-year-old consumers "who've grown up in a digital world," Stump said. The session will explore how younger consumers access media on devices including connected TVs, tablets and smartphones.

"We're going to focus on what consumers are really passionate about when it comes to digital platforms," Stump said. "We're going to show them examples and have them respond."

The Thursday session will cover consumer perceptions about product placement in TV shows, and the group will be older individuals between 25 and 54. The "Consumer Voices: New Advertising Strategies & What Consumers will Find Helpful (or Not)" panel will drill into the effectiveness of product placement.

For example, products from Kellogg's were integrated into an episode of The Next Food Network Star on Food Network featuring season 5 winner Melissa d'Arabian (now host of Ten Dollar Dinners).

"That's a different type of advertising. We want to know if it's more engaging, and how it helps them perceive the brand marketer versus conventional advertising," Stump said.

The focus group participants are being recruited by an outside research firm, using random phone calls. In accordance with standard industry practice, focus group members will be paid a fee for their time and travel expenses.

Stump added that the panelists will not be aware that Scripps is involved or even that it's a cable industry event until they get to the McCormick Place convention center.

NCTA's concept for The Park is to provide a stage for demos, interviews and announcements about new media and broadband products. "This was a natural fit for The Park, because the industry is so focused on consumers and how they consume content and entertainment on various platforms," National Cable & Telecommunications Association vice president of industry affairs Mark Bell said.

The Cable Show has not been a venue for many live focus groups, Bell noted. "Consumers don't typically get to see what we do as an industry, either."