Channel 4 on the ‘misinformation’ around advertising to young people

The broadcaster says there is still a lot of misinformation when it comes to video advertising to younger audiences.


Channel 4 says it’s time for brands to adjust their understanding of 16- to 24-year-olds, and “not believe the hype” when it comes to young people mainly spending their time watching YouTube videos or sending each other photos on Snapchat.

Speaking at a Thinkbox event today (29 March), Georgina Harvey, research manager at Channel 4, discussed the broadcaster’s segmentation study into young people’s video preferences and claimed there is a lot of “misinformation” around advertising to this age group.

Using a sample of 1,000 16- to 24-year-olds, Channel 4 found that while the common perception might be that young people no longer watch TV, Harvey said the opposite is true.

Of the 1,000 young people surveyed, 90% said they had watched TV on a TV set over the last month. Meanwhile, 94% of respondents had watched video through YouTube, Vimeo or Vevo. Almost all (92%) had used a social media platform – but less than half of them have watched a video.

“While they’ve all accessed [a video] platform, the content they’re consuming is very fragmented. Only 20% watched a vlogger in the last 30 days, so please don’t rush off and put all of your money into vloggers,” she said.

Meanwhile, 100% of its sample reported watching All4, BBC iPlayer or ITV hub content either on-demand, through catch-up or live in the past month, which Harvey claims demonstrates that established media brands are still acting as “social glue”.

Only 20% watched a vlogger in the last 30 days, so please don’t rush off and put all of your money into vloggers.

Georgina Harvey, Channel 4

‘Don’t believe the hype’

The study also divided the young people into different audience segments, depending on how they viewed their content. ‘Pop socials’ enjoy watching live TV, while ‘bingers’ watch a lot of content in one sitting. ‘VoD socials’ consume a lot of video, and only binge if they have someone to watch the content with.

‘Short snappers’ were identified by Harvey as a segment that “marketers want to believe is where all 16- to 24-year-olds are” – but she had a strong word of caution for the audience.

“Please don’t believe the hype. Short snappers are most likely to being watching YouTube and short form content, but they are alone in their bedroom. Living with mum and dad means they don’t get a lot of access to the main TV and they don’t have a lot of disposable cash either. They watch anything as long as it’s free,” she explained.

When it comes to commercial receptiveness, ‘short snappers’ are not the audience brands should be targeting. Instead, they should look at VoD socials, as Channel 4 claimed they are highly engaged with brands and have the biggest spending power.

She concluded: “People might tell you to shove all of your spend into Snapchat, as that’s where all the young people supposedly are, but despite being the most engaged segment when it comes to Snapchat, only six in 10 use it daily. And they are less likely to be engaged with your ad or brand.”

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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Stuart Fogarty 31 Mar 2017

    Unbelievable. Did she really say this? Honestly?

    • Gareth 1 Apr 2017

      Which part is ‘unbelievable’ and why is the slightest hint of criticism of social media always accompanied by a reaction which suggests the person making the critique has committed something tantamount to an act of blasphemy?

      There’s a lot of erroneous reporting around social media, particularly in relation to brand engagement. The tendency is to accentuate the positive, as opposed to the negative. Perhaps this has something to do with the message being delivered across, or dependent on, the very medium it’s critiquing.

      Social media has a lot to prove to data-driven marketers. Across industries it’s very rarely a top (or even mid-level) contributor of conversions or transactions, as far as last click attribution models go. There’s a reason the most followed people on social media are…people. There’s a reason why the top activity on social media is ‘interacting with family and friends’ not ‘engaging with the corporate machine.’

      That’s not to say social media doesn’t have a place, but too often it’s misunderstood (under a tidal wave of hype by those incentivised to propagate hype), or budget is pre-allocated in favour of it. Organic social media is a communications platform, and it should be treated as such.

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