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91

Watching as Working: The Valorization of Audience Consciousness

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notes

with Bill Livant

Jhally, S. (2014). Watching as Working: The Valorization of Audience Consciousness. In McGuigan, L. and Manzerolle, V. (eds) The Audience Commodity in a Digital Age: Revisiting a Critical Theory of Commercial Media. Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers, pp. 91-114

92

Let's begin with the advertising-supported commercial media as part of the whole economy. How do they make a profit? A short answer would be that the media speed up the selling of commodities, their circulation from production to consumption. Hence, they speed the realization of value (the conversion of value into a money form) embodied in commodities produced everywhere in the economy. Through advertising, the rapid consumption of commodities cuts down on circulation and storage costs for industrial capital. Media capital (e.g., broadcasters) receives a portion of surplus value (profits) of industrial capital as a kind of rent paid for access to audiences. The differences between this rent and its costs of production (e.g., wages paid to media industry workers) constitute its profit.

—p.92 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago

Let's begin with the advertising-supported commercial media as part of the whole economy. How do they make a profit? A short answer would be that the media speed up the selling of commodities, their circulation from production to consumption. Hence, they speed the realization of value (the conversion of value into a money form) embodied in commodities produced everywhere in the economy. Through advertising, the rapid consumption of commodities cuts down on circulation and storage costs for industrial capital. Media capital (e.g., broadcasters) receives a portion of surplus value (profits) of industrial capital as a kind of rent paid for access to audiences. The differences between this rent and its costs of production (e.g., wages paid to media industry workers) constitute its profit.

—p.92 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago
100

[...] there is much wasted watching by irrelevant viewers. Specification and fractionation of the audience leads to a form of concentrated viewing by the audience in which there is (from the point of view of advertisers) little wasted watching. Because that advertising time can be sold at a higher ate by the media, we can say that the audience organized in this manner watches harder and with more intensity and efficiency. In fact, because the value of the time goes up, necessary watching-time decreases, and surplus watching-time increases, thus leading to relative surplus value.

The other major way in which relative surplus value operates in the media is through the division of time. [...]

reminds me of a tweet by Ben Tarnoff (drawing on his & Moira's article about SV being unable to fix itself?) about FB needing to deepen extraction of value (since they cant spread beyond a certain point of penetration - limited by pop growth at their current scale)

for the division of time thing - think about how ads are shown every x tweets/posts/messages. the longer you scroll the more ads you see. they cram in a lot of diff ads rather than forcing you to linger on each (more profitable for them? cus more competition)

—p.100 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] there is much wasted watching by irrelevant viewers. Specification and fractionation of the audience leads to a form of concentrated viewing by the audience in which there is (from the point of view of advertisers) little wasted watching. Because that advertising time can be sold at a higher ate by the media, we can say that the audience organized in this manner watches harder and with more intensity and efficiency. In fact, because the value of the time goes up, necessary watching-time decreases, and surplus watching-time increases, thus leading to relative surplus value.

The other major way in which relative surplus value operates in the media is through the division of time. [...]

reminds me of a tweet by Ben Tarnoff (drawing on his & Moira's article about SV being unable to fix itself?) about FB needing to deepen extraction of value (since they cant spread beyond a certain point of penetration - limited by pop growth at their current scale)

for the division of time thing - think about how ads are shown every x tweets/posts/messages. the longer you scroll the more ads you see. they cram in a lot of diff ads rather than forcing you to linger on each (more profitable for them? cus more competition)

—p.100 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago
102

[...] Watching is a real extension of the logic of industrial labor, even if it is not the same as industrial labor. However, as metaphor, it illuminates the obscure workings of the economy in general. As Ricoeur writes, "metaphor is the rhetorical process by which discourse unleashes the power that certain fictions have to redescribe reality" (1977, 7).

totally irrelevant to the topic but kinda pretty

—p.102 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] Watching is a real extension of the logic of industrial labor, even if it is not the same as industrial labor. However, as metaphor, it illuminates the obscure workings of the economy in general. As Ricoeur writes, "metaphor is the rhetorical process by which discourse unleashes the power that certain fictions have to redescribe reality" (1977, 7).

totally irrelevant to the topic but kinda pretty

—p.102 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago
103

[...] the early history of industrial capitalism is tied up with attempts by capital to extend the time of the working day in an absolute sense, thus manipulating the ratio between necessary time and surplus time. [...]

However, as Marx realized, this absolute extension of the working day cannot go on indefinitely. Unions and collective bargaining limited the length of the working day, forcing capital to increase the intensity of labor. The concept of relative surplus value initially meant the cheapening of consumer goods that reproduce labor-power, so that the amount of necessary time would be decreased. [...]

connects very nicely with the increased ratio of ads-to-content (Google search - find diagram; FB news feed and messenger)

diss: relevant to abolition (union of users?)

—p.103 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] the early history of industrial capitalism is tied up with attempts by capital to extend the time of the working day in an absolute sense, thus manipulating the ratio between necessary time and surplus time. [...]

However, as Marx realized, this absolute extension of the working day cannot go on indefinitely. Unions and collective bargaining limited the length of the working day, forcing capital to increase the intensity of labor. The concept of relative surplus value initially meant the cheapening of consumer goods that reproduce labor-power, so that the amount of necessary time would be decreased. [...]

connects very nicely with the increased ratio of ads-to-content (Google search - find diagram; FB news feed and messenger)

diss: relevant to abolition (union of users?)

—p.103 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago
106

[...] Despite the fact that huge amounts of money (much more than programming) are spent on producing attractive commercials, people do all they can to avoid them. [...]

These findings have not been lost on the advertising or television industries, who have increasingly recognized that the traditional concept of a ratings point may no longer be valid. Ratings measure program watching rather than commercial watching. Indeed, it seems that there is much disparity between the two, and advertisers are starting to voice their discontent at having to pay for viewers who may not be watching their ads at all. [...]

AD BLOCKING!! so much to say on this. think about the war between FB and adblockers, and cus FB (etc) has much greater resources, it'll always win. try to find sources claiming that adblockers either sell data or collude?

also: find the bit in Chaos Monkeys where he talks about adblocking as being theft, lmao

—p.106 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] Despite the fact that huge amounts of money (much more than programming) are spent on producing attractive commercials, people do all they can to avoid them. [...]

These findings have not been lost on the advertising or television industries, who have increasingly recognized that the traditional concept of a ratings point may no longer be valid. Ratings measure program watching rather than commercial watching. Indeed, it seems that there is much disparity between the two, and advertisers are starting to voice their discontent at having to pay for viewers who may not be watching their ads at all. [...]

AD BLOCKING!! so much to say on this. think about the war between FB and adblockers, and cus FB (etc) has much greater resources, it'll always win. try to find sources claiming that adblockers either sell data or collude?

also: find the bit in Chaos Monkeys where he talks about adblocking as being theft, lmao

—p.106 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago
107

Up until now, we have made a rather strict distinction between programming and advertising. In the historical development of the commercial media system, however, the boundaries between the two were very often blurred. The function of programming is much more than merely capturing the watching activity of a specific demographic group of the market. Programming also has to provide the right environment for the advertising that will be inserted within it. Advertisers seek compatible programming vehicles that stress the lifestyles of consumption. [...] At a more explicit level, advertisers sought to have their products placed within the program itself. In all of these ways, we can see a blurring between the message content of the commercials and the message content of the programming.

ahhhh influencer marketing! and also native advertising?

—p.107 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago

Up until now, we have made a rather strict distinction between programming and advertising. In the historical development of the commercial media system, however, the boundaries between the two were very often blurred. The function of programming is much more than merely capturing the watching activity of a specific demographic group of the market. Programming also has to provide the right environment for the advertising that will be inserted within it. Advertisers seek compatible programming vehicles that stress the lifestyles of consumption. [...] At a more explicit level, advertisers sought to have their products placed within the program itself. In all of these ways, we can see a blurring between the message content of the commercials and the message content of the programming.

ahhhh influencer marketing! and also native advertising?

—p.107 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago
110

As with other objects used by capital, no expense is spared in producing the best possible good. Also like capital goods, commercials are tax deductible. During programming time (consumption watching-time), audiences create meaning for themselves. During commercial time (labour watching-time), audiences create meaning for capital. [...]

nothing super novel, just worth reflecting on more (i like the meaning for capital vs themselves dichotomy)

—p.110 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago

As with other objects used by capital, no expense is spared in producing the best possible good. Also like capital goods, commercials are tax deductible. During programming time (consumption watching-time), audiences create meaning for themselves. During commercial time (labour watching-time), audiences create meaning for capital. [...]

nothing super novel, just worth reflecting on more (i like the meaning for capital vs themselves dichotomy)

—p.110 by Sut Jhally 1 year, 1 month ago