A Look Ahead

Poised not only at the start of a new year, but also at the start of a new decade, (oh, yeah, and as head of an online marketing company), it is pretty much required that I spend some time anticipating and predicting what's ahead in the world of teen marketing. A few thoughts:

Social Media

• 2010 is the year when we can stop talking about social media as a "phenomenon" and agree it is the new status quo. Teens have known this for awhile.

• Teens will join the general migration from MySpace to Facebook ... even as we hear more and more about people who are "closing" their Facebook accounts.

• New FTC regulations with respect to social media will emerge; what they achieve, TBD. Ironically, new privacy restrictions may mostly serve to keep parents in the dark regarding teen accounts.

• Social search will start to come of age ... this is particularly relevant for the teen set, which leans heavily on peer opinion when thinking about brands and products. Leading marketers will figure out how to use this peer influence to deliver their marketing messages.



• Social media marketing, as part of integrated, thoughtful campaigns, will achieve measurable success with multiple segments, including teens ... in particular look for Facebook to deliver results to advertisers via key word targeting, pay-per -click models, etc.


• Expect the teen / tween segment to have their hands on increasing numbers of smartphones -- especially the iPhone.

• More smart phones might just be a boon for parents: with LBS (location based services), parents can more easily keep tabs on their kids' whereabouts.

• Cool, functional apps will continue to emerge--- in particular those that that allow for one to many updates and notifications. Marketers, think about what this means for you.

• Mobile advertising: in 2010, don't expect everyone to "get it right" -- this will take a few more years. Teens are particularly wary of anything that smells like advertising so getting it right for this segment is even tougher. However, marketers will take advantage of smartphones' HTML browsers and a handful of effective advertising campaigns on mobile devices will emerge.

• The line between mobile and non-mobile won't be gone by the end of 2010 -- but almost.

All the other stuff: SMS, Twitter, IM, Email, Talking on the phone

• Despite the rise of the smartphone, SMS will remain the killer app for teens.

• Teen email, however, will continue its slide down the communication ladder.

• Talking on the telephone? It still happens, but teens are much more likely to connect with their fingers than via their voices. They'll IM before they call. Even more so in 2010. That's good for online marketers.

• Twitter will continue to grow, but teen usage will continue to lag -- it's just not relevant to their world -- yet.

Online Advertising and Marketing- Some General Themes

• Online advertising will get a lift. Print publications are decreasing, teen readers of print are an even smaller, more rapidly shrinking segment. TV viewership is fragmented. Marketers have to take their messages online in greater numbers with greater dollars.

• Integrated campaigns that cross technology channels (social media, mobile, movie, etc.) with compelling "calls to action" will be most effective.

• Content and marketing will continue to blend. The most compelling campaigns will be clever, topical and provide clear value to teens (and, therefore, marketers).

• Unpaid exposure -- via viral marketing, etc., will continue to grow, becoming an even more important factor in branding. The online advertising question, then, is how to drive this viral branding.

• Twilight will continue to occupy huge mindshare in the teen (girl) world. With a new movie due out early summer, I don't expect this to change until year end. The question: who/ how can best capitalize on this success from a marketing standpoint?

2 comments about "A Look Ahead ".
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  1. Esther Dyson from EDventure, December 31, 2009 at 12:25 p.m.

    re this line: " New FTC regulations with respect to social media will emerge; what they achieve, TBD. Ironically, new privacy restrictions may mostly serve to keep parents in the dark regarding teen accounts."

    What's ironic about that? Privacy *should* mean control over precisely who sees your information....

  2. Jeffrey Chester from CDD, December 31, 2009 at 1:49 p.m.

    Your comment on what we expect will be meaningful new federal safeguards when marketing to adolescents online is entirely off-base (and self-serving). We expect that the FTC will offer regulations that will specifically address social media and other digital marketing practices targeted teens--including rules on privacy (that will protect all consumers). Parents will know that certain kinds of social media viral and data collection schemes, for example, are off limits.

    Social media marketing companies focused on the youth segment, including multicultural adolescents, should embrace policies that respect and protect underage youth.

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