Commentary

Some Digital Media Is Following The Path Of Older-Skewing TV Networks

Are Facebook and Twitter becoming like older-targeted TV networks?

A new Pew Research Center survey says roughly half of U.S. teenagers are using Facebook. Three years ago, it was 71%. Twitter’s current number is 32% -- roughly the same as it was three years ago.

Both platforms are at lower levels now than other social media platform: Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (65%). YouTube is at a 85% level.

This is no surprise when it come to young users -- Facebook and Twitter have been skewing to older consumers for some time, according to analysis.

Looking more closely, when asked what digital media teenagers use most often, Snapchat was No. 1 at 35%, followed by YouTube at 32% and Instagram at 15%.

How did Facebook and Twitter fare in this “most often” category? They came in at only 10% and 3%, respectively.

For many, none of this really matters, not when Facebook (and Google) continued to witnessed sharp double-digit percentage advertising gains. Is it a case of older viewers versus young viewers?

In the 1990s, traditional broadcast TV networks were faced with growing competition from the then “new media” -- cable TV networks -- while broadcast TV networks audiences were getting older.

While all that happened, those broadcast TV networks registered steady single-digit percentage overall advertising revenue growth. (Cost-per-thousand prices could regularly see double-digit percentage hikes.)

Back then, media buyers with a young consumers' focus might have put some money on MTV, for example -- or early-evening network comedies, off-network syndicated comedies, late-night talk shows, sports and other programming.

Media options have changed dramatically.

The Pew study found that 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, with 45% saying they are online “almost constantly.” Teenagers have never been watching TV with this “almost constantly” descriptor.

Still, TV analysts will say -- looking more granularly -- that young millennials and GenXers still watch a lot of traditional TV — although maybe with that mobile phone in their hands.

TV networks will also point out that when their programming goes on digital advertising platforms, it immediately attracts a much younger audience. CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox will attest to this.

Savvy media-buying executives should look ahead to the next big thing to command constant media consumption. Alexa-based no-hands media? Artificial intelligence-aided social media? Or perhaps interactive young-skewing holograms?

2 comments about "Some Digital Media Is Following The Path Of Older-Skewing TV Networks".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 5, 2018 at 9:54 a.m.

    Putting it in a more realistic perspective, Wayne, it's not that FB is skewing older to anything like the extent that broadcast TV has done. It doesn't. What's happening is that FB, per the Pew study, is losing its upscale ( "smarter"? ) teens at a pretty fast rate to newer, more "with it", comeptitors, while retaining iits lowbrow teen usage. As for TV comparisons, to be fair, the typical not so well educated and low income 18-24-year-old does, indeed, spend a lot more time with TV than social media. But I doubt that this is the case with upscale teens living in homes with college educated parents. Perhaps someone at Nielsen might favor us with some data on this.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 5, 2018 at 8:12 p.m.

    The more affluent teenagers and 18-24 year olds are, the more things they do besides watching a show. If you don't take income into consideration in a large way, you miss the point.

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