Tackling the complexities of young media multitaskers

Teenagers are regularly portrayed as spending hours on the computer by themselves, but according to research by Forrester into media consumption habits amongst 12 – 17- year-olds across Europe, young people like to use multiple media while hanging out with their friends.

This reinforces some research carried out earlier in the year by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) which also identifies the growth of the media multitasker. Click here to read about this research in detail.

The Forrester research asked teenagers across Europe for their opinions about how marketers can engage better with younger people. So what exactly does this mean for marketers? It’s certainly a challenge to engage with this audience when they’ve got half an eye on the telly, while surfing online and chatting to friends at the same time.

Forrester’s Nick Thomas suggests that marketers would do well to follow some new rules in light of the agency’s latest findings.

Most teenagers no longer consume one platform in isolation. He suggests there is a “real-time opportunity for content providers and marketers to engage in real-time online activity around TV content.”

The best time of day to engage with a younger audience is in the early evening (between 5pm and 8pm) according to Thomas. Teenagers are creatures of habit and like to consume media at the same sort of time every day. A message aimed at this audience will worker harder for marketers at this time of day, so it makes sense to think about this when planning media placement.

Multitasking is now so common that marketers need to think about creating multiplatform content experiences. Teenagers are much more likely to be talking about your content than other people. Forty-five per cent of teens who are watching TV while also online like to talk to their friends via Instant Messenger. Thomas suggests that one of the ways to do this is by creating opportunities on social networks for users to interact around television content in real time.

The age old “think local” adage still applies to teenage multitaskers. Just because the internet brings the world close together, it doesn’t mean that UK teens behave in the same way as Spanish youngsters. So understanding your local audience is essential when creating multiplatform content experience, according to Thomas.

Other recommendations include using music to engage teens, and utilising the appeal of video gaming. Both gaming and listening to music are popular pastimes so it makes sense to think about these when constructing a marketing strategy.

These all sound like fairly straightforward recommendations on paper. However, media multitaskers have complex habits and I can’t imagine many brands owners are going to easily grasp changing media consumption for some time yet. But if marketers start to think about this changing media habits, then it might mean messages aimed at a teenage audience get more attention.

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