The simple truth? The Internet is moving to video. The move is already underway with Millennials, but it will be underscored when today's teens are in their mid- to late twenties in a decade's time.
As a complete coincidence, I have been researching with earbud manufacturers how the market for bluetooth headphones and earbuds has now overtaken wired headphones. No -- it's not just the iPhone 7 that has prompted the cord-cutting. According to one very knowledgeable researcher, the move began to gather momentum three years ago. The only reason he could think of was teens and Millennials watching longer shows on their smartphone and not wanting the cord to get in the way.
So what does this mean, other than that our teenage sons and daughters spending more time hunched over a smaller screen and the ever-present battle for USB ports to charge devices heating up as bluetooth headsets and earbuds get low on juice?
Well, if you want to quantify the size of this shift, some MediaCom figures in Marketing Tech News are well worth checking out. A year ago a quarter of teens were saying their smartphone is the main way to watch television. This year, it has risen to 38%. Interestingly, a key fact behind this rising trend is that two in three 8- to 12-year-olds now own a smartphone, compared to just under half two years ago.
Pre-teens are getting tooled up in this mobile-first media landscape of ours, and so it's not surprising that they are starting to consume more and more video content on a device they can treat as personal, unlike television.
As far as other media are concerned, some eMarketer research for the US market shows a very noticeable shift toward mobile apps and mobile publishers for Millennials that is not being followed up by teens. Instead, they appear to be moving away from mobile publishers and bloggers to watching more video. More than half of all teens show they are spending more time on social and watching more video. The same move is being seen among Millennials, but it's no quite as pronounced, certainly not with ditching the written word one would associate with bloggers.
It would be too simple to roll one's eyes and presume teens are just watching more influencer vloggers on YouTube. Interestingly, the massive shift is toward full-length tv shows as well as short clips -- a little over half of all teens are consuming more of both on their smartphones.
So, we can't trot out the old lines about teens and Millennials only having the attention span for 90-second fun videos on YouTube. The move to video is consistent across long- and short form, and is more pronounced among teens than Millennials.
What we can certainly say is that now we pretty much all have decent broadband, the Internet is a channel for video consumption. It's not just about pictures and text, as us Gen X Internet users have become accustomed to. We didn't grow up with this, but teens did and it probably happened to Millennials while they were teens or college students.
The result is clearly panning out to be a move away from the written word toward video -- both long-form and short. If you want to reach a young audience, it seems clear that telling it in moving pictures and audio will overtake the written word at some point. Time to refresh that blogging strategy?