Shared Attention Is Not Bad News For Marketers

Older generations are often annoyed by Gen Y's tendency to multitask. Among networks and advertisers, that annoyance has morphed into genuine concern over Gen Yers updating their Facebook status, while texting someone, while supposedly watching a TV show.

This doesn't mean doomsday for the effectiveness of television advertising or engagement with television programming. In fact, it is likely the very opposite.

Once again, Millennials are the reason.

Rather than fighting or fearing Gen Y's natural inclination to multitask, markers should embrace it. Networks are even starting to pave the way, particularly CBS and CW.

According to a New York Timesreport, CBS touted its 100 million fans on social media and CW even announced specific opportunities to allow advertisers to connect with their viewers through social media during upfront presentations last week.

As the networks provide the infrastructure, advertisers can build successful integrated campaigns when they know who they are most likely to reach (Millennials) and what favorable multitasking behaviors they exhibit (keep reading).



Our research found that Generation Y is more likely than Generation X or Baby Boomers to exhibit complementary multi-tasking behaviors like these:

  • Nearly four out of 10 Millennials regularly text or exchange emails about a TV program while watching it live
  • One-third regularly post comments on a TV program's Facebook page while watching it live
  • Slightly more than one out of four Millennials tweet about a TV program while watching it live
  • Nearly one out of four Millennials who accessed the Internet during the Super Bowl this year looked up information related to Super Bowl advertisers and products.

Girls are often perceived as a marketer's BFF because they share brand recommendations, but in the case of positive multitasking, male Millennials are the new BFF for marketers.

Forty-one percent of male Millennials post on a TV program's Facebook page, compared to 23% of female Millennials, and 42% tweet about TV programs while watching, compared to just 15% of female Millennials.

These Gen Y guys are also twice as likely as their female counterparts to text or email their friends about a TV program.

Considering that TV commercials and TV shows are the top ways Millennials discover what's cool and the hottest things to buy, according to a Magid Generational Strategies finding, marketers should be thrilled Millennials like to multitask so much -- especially the Gen Y guys.

Add in the finding that these guys say their friends are very involved in a number of their purchase decisions (e.g., movies they see, electronics they buy, cell phone carriers they use) and marketers have just struck gold.

They're seeing your product on TV.

They're engaging with it.

They're telling their friends.

And, they're listening to what their friends tell them.

Looks like Gen Y guys can make the ideal marketing equation of one plus one equals four not just possible, but probable.

There's nothing annoying about that.

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