Stop Wasting 50% Of Your Marketing Budget

Last month, Fuse and the University of Massachusetts, conducted research around how brands can effectively reach the teen target without breaking their budgets. The study, "Advertising to Teens: 2009 Research," surveyed 598 teenagers ages 13 - 18 online, gathering a statistically valid sample in all aspects. Concentrations included Health & Beauty, Shoes, Department Stores & Retailers, Apparel, Cell Phones, Consumer Electronics, Food & Snack Food and Quick Service Restaurants.

We compared findings with current industry buzz to see if marketers were on track or missing the mark with teens. While some of the findings came as a surprise and may be subject to debate, we encourage marketers to use these insights while reviewing their current budget allocation for reaching the teen market. The information highlighted below includes the top three most surprising results:


  • Industry buzz is that TV ad revenue is shrinking; Brandweek reported that analysts see broadcast TV ad revenue shrinking between 8 and 10% in 2009
  1. TV viewership/ratings are down, thus less advertiser revenue,
  2. TV has become less effective in a world of other "small screens"
  3. TV isn't an effective way to reach teens
  • The study found that 75% of teens prefer and/or believe it's appropriate for brands to advertise to them by way of TV advertising



Social Media:

  • According to eMarketer, advertising on social networks was $1.2 billion in 2008, rising to $1.3 billion in 2009
  • The study found that only 30% of teens have "friended" a brand on a social networking site
  1. Additionally, over 60% had an unfavorable to neutral opinion of brands advertising on social networks
  2. Alternatively, almost 80% of teens have visited a brand's official product site, most often to make purchase decisions
  3. We think this number is higher than in the past due in part to teens making smart purchasing decisions because of the recession

Text Messaging:

  • In 2008 Adweek reported, "It's not surprising that marketers have ramped up their use of the medium (text messaging) to engage their customers ..."
  • The study found that less than 10% of teens approve of or think text messaging is an effective way to reach them
  • Even though 90% of teens text, 90% of teens disapprove of advertisers texting them

In summary ...

Don't totally disregard television advertising if marketing budgets can sustain it.

Brands that view social networks as a relatively free place to insert themselves in the teen dialogue are not well received; teens view social networks as a place to hang out with their friends.

The days of a brand having a "profile" on MySpace are over; brands need to invest in relevant, paid content that provides some type of added value to teens and then further investment to maintain/update that presence. Social network marketing tactics are not free! Invest in your content, keep it fresh, and success will follow

The findings around text message advertising reinforce that just because teens are engaged in something, it is not a valid reason for brands to advertise to them in that space or through that medium.

For more information and to get a copy on these results, visit

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3 comments about "Stop Wasting 50% Of Your Marketing Budget ".
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  1. paul myers, June 18, 2009 at 1:03 p.m.

    I totally agree with this research as our research supports these findings as well.

    All the hype over Twitter and Facebook is not relevant nor applicable to Gen-Y. Despite the myriad of new ways to view content, Gen-Y still sees TV as an acceptable place for advertising. But, they don't want to receive ads through the internet nor on their cell phones.

    However, they will engage with brands via the Internet and through their cell phones IF there is something in it for them AND when they are able to initiate the interaction rather than being force fed a brand message.

    For example, we have had many successes in driving traffic to branded micro-sites as well as having Gen-Y consumers interact with brands via SMS and MMS campaigns when engaging content or other incentives are offered.

    Bottom line, when brands offer something compelling to Gen-Y, rather than just a sales pitch, in an authentic and credible manner - young consumers will engage with brands presenting a huge opportunity for brands to create and foster loyalty as these consumers will often search for more information about such brands.

  2. Allison Ellis from Hopscotch Consulting, June 18, 2009 at 2:08 p.m.

    It's interesting (and dare I say, ironic) that teens are the ones who are at the forefront of mobile and social media, yet they say they do not want to be marketed to in this manner. I attended the recent Ypulse conference and heard Bill's presentation - really, really great info.

    In keeping with the "stop wasting 50% of your marketing budget" theme, I have been advising clients to stick with more traditional forms of media (tv, print, radio) before launching a full-on social media or mobile campaign. Still- it's a great place to experiment and can be very cost-effective if executed properly. Quizzes, freebies and contests have always been great ways to engage youth audiences (see, there's that traditional theme again...) and will translate well into new media marketing campaigns. To Paul's point, authenticity is a huge component as well.

  3. Tom Cunniff from Combe Incorporated, June 18, 2009 at 2:42 p.m.

    Bill, this is genuinely useful stuff. Thanks.

    Many people who live in the new media echo chamber are likely to despise this article as "dinosaur thinking".

    Many people who live in the old media echo chamber will likely embrace this article as proof that all is well and there's no need to get ready for the future because it isn't coming.

    Neither extreme, of course, is correct.

    Personally I was surprised by the facts from the research and I like being surprised. Further proof that we all need to get out of our own echo chambers from time to time and breathe some fresh air : )

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