Web Is Key Part Of 18-34s' Lives; Simultaneous Web Surfing And TV Viewing Patterns Emerge
The study, "On Their Own Time: An Ethnographic Look At The 18-34-Year-Old Media Consumer," represents the second installment of research by the OPA examining the behaviors and attitudes of various demographic groups to the Web and other media. John Carey, Ph.D., Greystone Communications, conducted the qualitative research among 42 people living in 23 households in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania metro New York region, and in Boston and Chicago. The ethnographic research took into account the group's media behaviors at home and at work, and in other public places such as athletic clubs.
The 18-34 demo represents only 24 percent of the overall online population, but accounts for 38 percent of the time spent online and 40 percent of Web pages viewed. The 18-34 media consumer is a multitasker, floating between the wireless PC and Web, TV watching, Internet Messaging, gaming, digital music devices and downloads, and cell phone chats. "Young people have an incredible capacity to take media in simultaneously," said Carey. For some 18-34s, online surfing and TV viewing is related, particularly in the sports, reality programming, and entertainment areas, while for others, Internet use and TV viewing are completely unrelated.
The young demo associated the Web with unfettered, unlimited access to fun, news, communication, and entertainment, while they associated TV with "escape," entertainment, and relaxation. Radio is relied upon for news, traffic, and music in the car, and as "company" and a connection to the world.
"Understanding the media consumption of 18- to-34-year-olds provides a window into the future of media overall," said Michael Zimbalist, president- OPA. "These young people clearly prefer media that are always accessible, and that they can experience on their own time."
Due to erratic work and school schedules, the 18- to-24-year-old sub-segment reported tuning in to media, particularly the Web and TV, late in the day--often from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Not surprisingly, as young people settle down and into marriage, jobs, and family, their media habits change again, with some study participants reporting more TV watching once they began having children. "We don't go out as much," one woman reported. Study participants who were asked if they could only have two media, which would they choose, answered that they would choose TV and the Web.
In March, the OPA released a quantitative study in conjunction with comScore Networks, and among the notable findings in that study:
*77.4 percent of 18-34s go online from home, compared to 32.5 percent who log on from work.
*16.4 percent of 18-34s access the 'Net via cell phones; 5.4 percent via personal digital assistants.
*According to comScore Networks' Media Metrix, 18-34s use the Internet to purchase tickets (42.5 percent); to research movies and entertainment options (31.1 percent); to access directories/resources--personals (30.7 percent); retail--consumer electronics (38 percent); careers (28 percent); directories/resources--classifieds (19.6 percent); games and gaming information (29.4 percent); entertainment--music (52 percent); and sports (42.5 percent).
*Among the highest categories for women 18-34 on the Web: Community--women (42.1 percent); Community--family (34.7 percent); retail--apparel (35.3 percent); and careers (29.6 percent), according to Media Metrix.
*Among the highest categories for men 18-34 on the Web: Sports (47.7 percent); gaming--gaming information (33.9 percent); entertainment--music (53 percent); auctions (51.3 percent); and service--free and Web-hosting (53.9 percent).
*Entertainment content on the Web is important to 18-34s, including streaming music and movies, sports sites, and entertainment news; sharing and downloading music, movies, and files on the Internet; and accessing online resources for offline entertainment such as movie listings, reviews, theater schedules, and local restaurant and club listings.
*18-34s consider the Internet to be one of the most important entertainment sources available to them at home (59.3 percent) and at work (26.8 percent).
*Downloading/Burning Music represents 34.4 percent of 18-34s' online activity in the last six months; burning downloaded music to CDs (42.4 percent); sharing and sending video via the Web (25.4 percent); and sharing/sending music via the Web (12.6 percent).
*Online banking and finance: 18-34s are more likely to check their bank balances and conduct other banking transactions online than their older counterparts. (58.6 percent checked their bank balances online in the last six months).