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  • Audience

    An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature (in which they are called "readers"), theatre, music (in which they are called "listeners"), video games (in which they are called "players"), or academics in any medium. Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of art; some events invite overt audience participation and others allowing only modest clapping and criticism and reception.

    Media audience studies have become a recognized part of the curriculum. Audience theory offers scholarly insight into audiences in general. These insights shape our knowledge of just how audiences affect and are affected by different forms of art. The biggest art form is the mass media. Films, video games, radio shows, software (and hardware), and other formats are affected by the audience and its reviews and recommendations.

    In the age of easy internet participation and citizen journalism, professional creators share space, and sometimes attention with the public. American journalist Jeff Jarvis said, "Give the people control of media, they will use it. The corollary: Don't give the people control of media, and you will lose. Whenever citizens can exercise control, they will." Tom Curley, President of the Associated Press, similarly said, "The users are deciding what the point of their engagement will be what application, what device, what time, what place."

    An immediate audience is a type of audience that is composed of individuals who are face-to-face subjects with a speaker and a speaker's rhetorical text or speech. This audience directly listens to, engages with, and consumes the rhetorical text in an unmediated fashion. In measuring immediate audience reception and feedback, (audience measurement), one can depend on personal interviews, applause, and verbal comments made during and after a rhetorical speech.

    In contrast to immediate audiences, mediated audiences are composed of individuals who consume rhetorical texts in a manner that is different from the time or place in which a speaker presents text. Audiences who consume texts or speeches through television, radio and internet are considered mediated audiences because those mediums separate the rhetor and the audience. Such audiences are physically away from the audience and the message is controlled. Understanding the size and composition of mediated audiences can be difficult because mediums such as television, radio, and Internet can displace the audience from the time and circumstance of a rhetorical text or speech. In measuring mediated audience reception and feedback (a practice called audience measurement), one can depend on opinion polls and ratings, as well as comments and forums that may be featured on a website. This applies to may fields such as movies, songs and much more. There are companies that specialise in audience measurement.

    When a rhetor deeply considers, questions, and deliberates over the content of the ideas they are conveying, it can be said that these individuals are addressing the audience of self, or self-deliberating. Scholars Chaim Perelman and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca, in their book The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation, argue that the rhetor "is in a better position than anyone else to test the value of his own arguments." The audience of self, while not serving as the ends to all rhetorical purpose or circumstance, nevertheless acts as a type of audience that not only operates as a function of self-help, but as instrument used to discover the available means of persuasion.

    The universal audience is an imagined audience that serves as an ethical and argumentative test for the rhetor. This also requires the speaker to imagine a composite audience that contains individuals from diverse backgrounds and to discern whether or not the content of the rhetorical text or speech would appeal to individuals within that audience. Scholars Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca ascertain that the content addressed to a universal audience "must convince the reader that the reasons adduced are of a compelling character, that they are self-evident, and possess an absolute and timeless validity". The concept of the universal audience has received criticism for being idealistic because it can be considered as an impediment in achieving persuasive effect with particular audiences. Yet, it still may be useful as an ethical guide for a speaker and a critical tool for a reader or audience.

    An implied audience is an imaginary audience determined by an auditor or reader as the text's constructed audience. The implied audience is not the actual audience, but the one that can be inferred by reading or analyzing the text. Communications scholar Edwin Black, in his essay, The Second Persona, presents the theoretical concept of the implied audience using the idea of two personae. The first persona is the implied rhetoric (the idea of the speaker formed by the audience) and the second persona is the implied audience (the idea of the audience formed by and utilized for persuasion in the speech situation). A critic could also determine what the text wants that audience to become or do after the rhetorical situation.

    Audience participation can be uncomfortable for certain people, but is growing and evolving as a new tool of brand activation and brand engagement. In a bid to create and reinforce a special bond between brands and their consumers, companies are increasingly looking towards events that involve active audience participation. Often, organizations provide branded objects to event attendees that will involve the audience in the show as well as act as souvenirs of the event, creating a lasting link with the brand. For example, during Super Bowl XLVIII, the audience was incorporated in the Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show as part of the lighting effects. Pepsi involved the spectators by giving them "video ski hats" that produced visual effects across the crowd. By appealing more directly to people and emotions, brands can obtain feedback from their consumers. Companies that provide or seek such experiences refer to the term "crowd activation". For example, Tangible Interaction named one of its branches Crowd Activation and PixMob refers to itself as a crowd activation company on its website.