As I said last week, I just don't understand some marketers' lack of participation in social media. Well, here’s another thing I just don’t get: why people in marketing and advertising so often don’t put into action the lessons from their own in-house focus group -- their kids.
Here we have an industry falling over itself to reach younger demographics -- an overemphasis that is itself ridiculous -- and yet, companies continue to spend billions of dollars on media that the youth of the world just aren’t watching: namely, commercial TV. And all you need do to wonder if that’s a wise allocation of media dollars is to get your nose out of your laptop and see what’s going on in your own home.
I’m a mother of two -- a 16-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl -- and I can tell you that the amount of time either of them spend watching ad-supported TV is probably below 10% of their total media consumption. Instead, their media habits are carefully customized to who they are, and it’s a mixture of ad-free apps, games and video streaming. Hell, I can’t even get these kids to watch network fare that is supposedly up their alley, like NBC’s “The Voice.”
Since he’s a teenage boy, most of our son’s non-homework screen time is spent gaming online with friends, with pauses to watch live streams on MLB.TV. He’s much more likely to watch “Key and Peele” on YouTube than the actual show; loves Twitter, hasn’t posted on Facebook since May. His soundtrack is Spotify. He’s visiting a cousin this long weekend, but the only reason he’s emailing us instead of texting is because he forgot the charger on his iPhone. Other than that, sending emails to his Gmail account is pretty much like sending something into a black hole.
Our 10-year-old girl has different habits but with the same no-ad, customized theme. Plays Minecraft on occasion, and plays Subway Surfers whenever her mother will let her. To her dismay, doesn’t own a phone, and even when she gets one -- as her mother reminds her every day -- it will not be a smartphone, at least not at first. She yearns for an Instagram account, and is fascinated when I go on Facebook. But here’s hermedia habit that intrigues me most: Several years ago, when we could first install our cable provider’s iPad app, the iPad became her primary TV. But then something changed: When we signed up for Netflix, she immediately switched over to ad-free streaming. The only time the streaming app from Cablevision gets any use is when I watch a baseball game while I make dinner. As she likes to carefully organize the iPad’s apps, she has placed it in a sub-category she calls “Mom’s.”
Of course, no marketer should base millions in ad spending on the media habits of a teenager and a wannabe teen. Further study is required. Still, none of what I’ve outlined here should be surprising. The only surprising thing is that so little of it seems to come into play when millions upon millions of marketing dollars are being planned -- and spent.