Is There A Better Multi-Tasker Than The Teenager?

Think about it. At any given time, the average teen could be watching television, texting friends, surfing the web and finishing a term paper - all at once. The funny thing is that this is what many teens prefer. Their generation has become so used to the concept of multi-tasking that it has almost become second nature to them. So how can marketers take advantage of that?

According to a recent study conducted by CourseSmart, 14% of highs chool and college students own either an iPad or E-reader, and the sales of templates such as the iPad are expected to double in 2012. In addition, 93 percent of the students surveyed said that they owned a laptop, while 47%have a smartphone. If you add all of these things together, relatively all teens are active on at least one type of media device.

At an MIP Junior panel discussion this past October, Donna Friedman Meir, chief innovation officer at InsightKids, highlighted that teenagers spend an average of 218 minutes a day watching television, 169 minutes online, 128 minutes using mobile phones and 57 minutes playing games. One hundred thirteen minutes are spent on books, magazines and other forms of media, for a total of 8 hours and 19 minutes of media consumption a day (once again, a lot of multi-tasking).



So what is my point with all of this? Don’t worry about hitting every single media platform out there – make your marketing campaign high quality, and teens will bring it from one platform to another on their own. What we put out there can do all the work for us by traveling from one form of media to another on its own, or at least with the help of teens.

For example, sometimes television commercials can have a hard time hitting teens due to the presence of DVR and On-Demand capabilities; but a good television commercial can become gold if it goes viral through platforms such as YouTube. Think of the Best Buy commercial featuring Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne during Super Bowl XVL – not only was it considered one of the funniest commercials of the year, but it garnered millions of views on YouTube in the following months. Even people who don’t like sports had a chance to share in the laughter.

Coca-Cola has done an excellent job through its sponsorship of “American Idol.” That huge cup of Coke sitting in front of Randy Jackson at the judges table is not only seen during the original broadcast of every “American Idol” episode, but also during every online view of that episode. As clips of an individual episode start to appear through YouTube and Facebook, so does the Coca-Cola brand.

Keep in mind that a unique characteristic of this generation of teens is that most realize when they are being marketed to. As hundreds of other messages bombard them each day, you have to be sure that yours is going to stand out among the rest. But again, that doesn’t necessarily mean having to go crazy while trying to hit every media platform. Let it have a life of its own; teens will do the multi-tasking.

1 comment about "Is There A Better Multi-Tasker Than The Teenager?".
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  1. Gregg Deselms from The DesElms Consultancy, December 8, 2011 at 1:45 p.m.

    To just the headline question (and, if you consult most style manuals, headlines should rarely be questions, but that's another rant for another day) I respond: Actually, a teenager is not as good a multi-tasker as either they, or you, apparently, believe. Most people, in fact, cannot do it anywhere NEAR as well as they think they can.

    Study, after study, after study shows that the more the person SEEMS to be able to successfully multi-task, the more shallow his/her true comprehension of what's going on.

    Multi-tasking among teenagers -- actually, more accurately, their having grown-up on, and their use of the Internet -- has spawned an entire generation, now, of shallow and short-sighted thinkers who have great breadth of ever-so-slight knowledge, and almost no depth of any knowledge.

    Consequently, they want their news in sound bites and/or snippets. If they could glean all the information they needed from the world in little Twitter-style 140-character messages, they'd be all the happier.

    To that generation, even a shallow, poorly-written, unnecessarily short, TV-on-newsprint, piece of garbage USA Today story is too much to read. Having to wade through a typical New Yorker article would probably KILL 'em!

    The world is a complex place. It cannot be summarized in 140 characters or less. It takes time and energy and concentration and caring to be, as the lawyers say, fully advised in the premises. This new generation of multi-taskers exhibits none of those characteristics...

    ...and so advertisers, and political operatives, and anyone else who'd like to pull the wool over the eyes of today's young people who will be running tomorrow's world can easily do it, counting on the young to not require the details necessary to truly understand.

    I sometimes think it will be a blessing that I will not be alive (or at least will be in my waning years) when the true fallout from all this finally occurs.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

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