More Things I Don't Get About CMOs: Why They Ignore The Lessons From Their Kids' Media Use

The Social Media Insider is pleased to report that last week’s column on the lack of CMOs on social media, particularly among big brands, has prompted has prompteda nice debate.

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.

3 comments about "More Things I Don't Get About CMOs: Why They Ignore The Lessons From Their Kids' Media Use ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, September 28, 2014 at 12:22 p.m.

    Pretty much identical to my 16-year-old twin boys.

  2. Brittney T from ASU, September 29, 2014 at 3:24 p.m.

    Why are companies still spending billions of dollars for TV commercials for younger generations? Like mentioned in this article, Catherine Taylor’s children rarely consume their media through the TV. They are either playing apps on their ipads, video games on a gaming system, or on subscriptions where there are minimal to none advertisements. As a 20 year old college student, the same goes towards me. I live in a dorm setting, so I do not have room for a TV. I have an account with Netflix, which is ad free. So when I do have time to watch some entertainment, it is through Netflix, and I love that it is ad free. For social media, I mainly use Instagram and twitter. Instagram has ads on occasion, and so does Twitter. Facebook has tons of ads, but many people my age do not use this site as often because it has been taken over by parents and there is not as much privacy. My younger sister who is in high school does not even log into her Facebook account because everyone communicates with each other via Twitter. With many younger demographics using less TV, but turning to the newest popular social media sites, how come advertisers are not turning to those either? I am never aware of the latest movies premiering soon, what tv shows are popular, and even the next big thing because they are not advertised to me. I am not complaining that the most of my media has very little ads, but if I was a marketer with high school and college students, I would be turning to these sites.

  3. Cathy Taylor from MediaPost, September 29, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.

    Thanks for the comments, folks. It really is astonishing how little traditional media my kids use.


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