Interpreting Marketing Research: “Teens Are More ‘Normal’ Than You Think Regarding Media Usage

In Advertising News on September 3, 2010 by PALO creative

I was reading through some recent market research from Nielson this morning and something occurred to me and I thought I’s share…
The name of the article is: “Teens more ‘normal’ than you think regarding media usage.” The full article can be found at . The research was conducted by Nielson, which is a very reputable national research company, so I don’t doubt the validity of their research. What I question is the interpretation of their report.

In the article they discuss that while teenagers are busy texting and IMing with their friends, they are still using traditional media and are, if anything, more prone to notice, like, and remember ads. Their “key Takeaways” are:

Key Takeaways

  • Teens are NOT abandoning TV for new media: In fact, they watch more TV than ever, up 6% over the past five years in the U.S.
  • Teens love the Internet … but spend far less time browsing than adults: Teens spend 11 hours and 32 minutes per month online. Far below the average of 29 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Teens watch less online video than most adults, but the ads are highly engaging to them
  • Teens spend 35% less time watching online video than adults 25-34, but recall ads better when watching TV shows online than they do on television.
  • Teens read newspapers, listen to the radio and even like advertising more than most: Teens who recall TV ads are 44% more likely to say they liked the ad.
  • Teens play video games, but their tastes aren’t all for the blood-and-guts style games: Just two of their top five most-anticipated games since 2005 have been rated “Mature.”
  • Teens’ favorite TV shows, top websites and genre preferences across media are mostly the same as their parents: For U.S. teens, American Idol was the top show in 2008, Google the top website and general dramas are a preferred TV genre for teens around the world.

It became obvious to me as I was reading this article that many people may take this as a sign that their current traditional media (TV and Radio) campaign is still safe, and is working as well as it would have 10 years ago. In reality, the most important thing to be taken from this article is that media usage in teens (and across all demographics) is disjointed and widely spread over many different forms of media.
It is safe to say that there is no one medium that can be used alone to ensure your target audience will be exposed to your message. While teens ONLY spend 11 hours per month online according to this research, that’s 11 hours a month they aren’t spending watching TV or listening to the radio – which means that during those 11 hours they aren’t being exposed to your traditional media campaign.
On the flip side of this research, you can find unlimited articles implying that your traditional media isn’t working and internet advertising is the only way to go. While people are using online media much more than they did a few years ago, and in the fairly-near future traditional media may be obsolete, we aren’t there yet. People do still use traditional media (usage varies by demo.)
The moral of the story is that all research must be interpreted with common sense as well as the facts. The truth is that viewing and listening trends are shifting. People are using non-traditional media more and more, and if anything this trend is growing. This is not to say that traditional media has been phased out and is ineffective. It means that advertisers must change their approach to media with the habits of their target audience.
At PALO Creative we always recommend an integrated media mix that incorporates the media your target uses most – this allows you to reach your target across multiple channels of communications. Whether you’re using PALO, a different agency, or trying to handle your own campaign, the most important thing is that you’re integrating your media placements to reach your consumers. It all comes down to research and proper interpretation combined with common sense and industry knowledge.

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