Marketing Cruncher

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Weekly Stat: Media Switching Among Young Consumers

Digital Natives Switch Media 27 Times An Hour
Source: Innerscope Research

A recent study commissioned by Time Inc. and conducted by media research firm Innerscope Research found that "digital natives" (younger consumers who were basically born using digital technology) switch media venues about 27 times per nonworking hour. With only 30 participants, the study is by no means definitive but its results are interesting nonetheless. As a digital native myself, the results don't seem too far off from personal experience - I do find myself switching between my phone, laptop or iPad numerous times while watching an hour-long show on TV.

Digital natives switch frequently and seamlessly from one screen to another.
Photo by foreverdigital.

What does this mean for marketers competing with consumers' incredibly short attention spans?

It should come as no surprise that the generation of consumers who were born into the world of iPods and smartphones would be such active and dynamic consumers of media. After all, the use of digital technology has become second nature for digital natives who transition between devices more easily than they change clothes.

The challenge for marketers targeting this generation is to capture the attention of consumers with impossibly short attention spans. In a world where information is condensed into 140-characters, it is becoming more difficult for marketers to convey complete and coherent messages that consumers would be receptive to. Even a traditional 30-second commercial becomes unbearable for consumers, especially when they simply want to watch a quick video on YouTube.

The solution? You could try to cut down your messaging into smaller chunks that are easier to digest as consumers switch from one screen to the next. This doesn't mean, however, that digital natives are completely adverse to lengthier content. A perfect example is the 30-minute Kony 2012 video that became a viral hit among young people who have a million different things competing for their attention.

How then should your messages be structured in the face of this media switching behavior? At the end of the day the success of any marketing message depends on relevance, which essentially means being at the right place at the right time. With the Kony 2012 campaign for example, a lot of young people eventually made their way to the lengthy YouTube video after the campaign gained traction on Twitter first. The typical teenager doesn't usually browse YouTube for videos related to Ugandan war criminals. But when the topic trends on Twitter, then it doesn't take much to get them to check the video out. What this means for marketers: know what types of content your audience is ready for and be ready when they are ready for you.

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