Media Consumption: 18-34 Year Olds

We’ve heard so much about the 18-34 year old male demographic over the past year that it’s hard to imagine any other demographics exist. What about females ages 25-49? This article won’t deviate from talking about the 18-34’s, but will shed some light on them in a different way than most analysts are writing about.

I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m smack in the middle of the 18-34 year old demographic. Heck, I’m in my early 20’s. Alright, fine, you win. I’m 23. But I’ll be 24 soon. Why is this important? Because I can add more insight into our demographic from a marketing and technology standpoint that an outsider can…even one who is paid $65,000 a year to sit in a hot agency of the week and extrapolate insights into our demographic.

It’s my belief that males, ages 18-34 haven’t stopped watching TV because it’s a poor medium. I’m going to argue that there are a lot more media choices and opportunities available to 18-34’s which in turn devalues television in our daily lives as the main center of information and entertainment. Back in the 80s, my main method of receiving ‘content’ and ‘media’ was through television… I couldn’t read the newspaper *yet*, alright, maybe the USA Today, but the Wall Street Journal was gibberish to me.

Television had the monopoly over any 18-34 year old’s time back before the Internet became the new black, well today, for fall, isn’t the new black, brown? Television ratings were through the roof due to the lack of other available media channels.

Today, if I want the news, I have my sources:

Primary: Internet (PC), mobile
Secondary: television, radio (internet, satellite, and AM/FM)
Tertiary: podcasting/timeshifting

Now, if we look at the order of how things are listed, we’ll see that the primary ways of getting news are the most direct…they take the shortest amount of time to find the news I’m looking for. Thanks to Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Technorati, etc – we can find information much faster than any other medium. If you look at the secondary way of getting information (television/radio), you’ll note that you would have to listen to an entire show possibly to get your bit of information you want…which is a lot of wastage. In media, wastage is unwanted clutter that dilutes your media message. Usually, CPM’s rise heavily for this… which could turn a $50CPM on untargeted media (television) to an eCPM of $5000 (potentially) for low-wastage targeted media.

Television isn’t out though. 18-34 year olds still watch TV. I’m a huge hockey fan, and in order for me to watch my favorite team, the New Jersey Devils (even though I grew up in New York), I have no other place to watch other than at Continental Airlines Arena. iTV is starting to ramp up with different players emerging, but it’s going to be a while before ITV overtakes
broadcast/cable television as the ‘new’ TV. I also love Family Guy, Will & Grace, and Entourage….those are all television programs. Yes, I can watch them on my PC, but my laptop screen is 15â€?, and my LCD is only 20â€?. I don’t know many people who will sit at their computer and watch television with friends over…after-all, television is a social medium in terms of watching it with more than one person.

So, my argument here is that to reach the 18-34 year old, tweens, pimple-poopers, huggies generation, etc, and from now on, any age demographic that’s coming up through the ranks, reaching them on multiple media platforms is going to be essential. There are too many choices with too little time for us to just devote to 1 medium. Technology to the 18-34’s and
to any other younger generation is second nature to us…we expect to use it to find information. We consume media on multiple platforms and I am seeing different companies emerging that understand this and start utilizing these platforms to reach us…platforms could include video games, podcasting, Internet, mobile, in-flight, event sponsorship, blogworking, and many others.

At Digital Hollywood this past week, a panelist on one of the advertising topics mentioned that targeted media and emerging media didn’t have the reach of television or radio as of yet…however, a rebuttal emerged from the audience stating that targeted emerging media may offer lower numbers of reach, but their qualification to the marketing message is exponentially higher that the wastage factor is an order of magnitude lower. It makes sense. Before marketers write off platforms because they only reach 5 million users whereas television channels could potentially reach 100 million viewers, look at the wastage. Sometimes we overlook this.

Also, frequency is important…how much is too much? Is frequency across multiple media platforms in the same campaign counted? If you see an ad for Starbucks (sitting in Starbucks in San Diego currently) in a video game, then on a website, then on your mobile phone…do those 3 advertisements add up to the frequency cap or does each one act independently of one another?

A few questions are raised in all of this and there are no answers. The post has gone a bit off topic and I’ve rambled a bit, but at the end of the day, 18-34 year olds are consuming multiple media channels and platforms much more than before, and with constant availability and always on access, we see no end in consumption in sight. Television is still alive, but the value of television in today’s media budget’s are diminishing…take the dollars and apply it elsewhere…emerging media has some amazing prices right now that will get you into your target consumers much faster, efficient and at a lower eCPM that makes sense for both your agency and/or your brand.

As for the 18-34 year olds, we’re still here and we’re consuming more than ever. We still watch our television programs but we also split time with streaming concerts and video games, amongst many other things. Can’t forget MySpace and Instant Messenger… much time is wasted, oh, wait, I mean absorbed there?

Also, be a leader. Think different (thanks Apple).

Kermit: Miss Piggy, you look beautiful!
Miss Piggy: Thank you!
Kermit: [aside] Hollywood talk.

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