Young Media Users: If You Think You Know Where They Are Now, You're Probably Wrong

If you’re a media executive, you’re always worried about what young users are doing -- right now. But you might be guessing wrong.

Are they using Facebook? Maybe not so much. Twitter? You could be behind the times.

For years -- decades, actually -- this has been a big issue for traditional media platforms like MTV that cater to those young consumers. Up and down and around and out.  Maybe try to figure out where they are with music videos, “Teen Mom,” and the “VMAs.”

And if your company can’t follow the changes you can always merge. Alloy Digital and Break Media, two young-skewing digital video outfits trying to offer stuff for 12-24 years olds, will do just that.

In comparison, broadcast networks are -- what else? -- getting older. They now have an average age of 53. Over a year ago, CW decided that just targeting young women 18-34 wasn’t enough either. It needed to do better with a slightly broader crowd. Thus it launched “Arrow” last year -- a success. And this year it has a few other broader-reaching efforts: “The Originals” and “The Tomorrow People.”



Others -- like the new cable network Pivot, AXS, and the revamped Fox cable network FXX – keep trying to reach young viewers.

Viacom used to talk about how its networks could start with young children on Nick Jr. and hand them off in their teen years to MTV and then in their young adult years to VH1 and Spike.

Nice plan. But as Viacom has seen over the last few years – such as with the eye-opening ratings declines of Nickelodeon -- this can be crazy-hard to maintain. Blame Nielsen, maybe. But you have to keep remembering that young kids and young adults can be a fickle lot. They can also switch media platforms in a second -- make that a click of a favorite digital device.

And so it is with digital media. Young people are not a homogenous group by any means.  While much can appeal to their tastes, they don’t click on banner ads. Pre-roll video ads are for gazing into media space or switching to another digital device. And if this doesn’t make the grade, they can probably be found using digital ad-skipping or ad-blocking tools.

Catering to the young is for those energetic media entrepreneurs and executives comfortable with rejection, lack of knowledge, and occasional slivers of wild success.

3 comments about "Young Media Users: If You Think You Know Where They Are Now, You're Probably Wrong ".
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  1. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, October 10, 2013 at 12:10 a.m.

    I'm a Baby Boomer who sometimes purposely watches TV commercials or looks at print ads. However, as a regular user of Facebook and Twitter, I don't notice their ads at all, so there's probably no hope in reaching those under 30.

  2. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, October 10, 2013 at 5:53 a.m.

    On my recommended reading list has always been, The Aging of America, one would think the television industry has never heard of the subject...

  3. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, October 10, 2013 at 6:57 p.m.

    There's also always been a question of whether catering to the young was as profitable for their clients as ad agencies want to believe. Anyway, we should be suspicious of those who claim to know the young... Here's a great reminder from as far back as last January...a big claiming Teen's were done with Apple and Surface would be the future... Right...

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