Twenty Somethings Too Antsy to Advertise To

Discussion
Apr 11, 2012

Based on conclusions drawn from a recent Innerscope Research study commissioned by Time Warner, advertisers who believe consumers have the attention span to watch an entire 30-second commercial are probably deluding themselves. In the study, twenty-somethings that have grown up using a variety of personal media — smartphones, laptops and tablets — could be switching media platforms in the neighborhood of 27 times per hour when they’re off work.

For the study, thirty participants were outfitted with biometric belts and video-equipped glasses to track their physiology and what they were watching during 300 hours of nonworking time, according to an AdAge article. The subjects were segmented into “digital natives” and “digital immigrants,” the latter being consumers who became familiar with new digital technologies later in life. Both groups showed a high-degree of restlessness, but the “natives” switched media platforms 35 percent more than the “immigrants.”

Innerscope believes that not only is it more difficult to capture the attention of these consumers, but that they consume information in a more non-linear fashion, “less inclined to adhere to the traditional beginning-middle-end mode of consuming content.”

The AdAge article suggests two possible solutions to the problem: creating shorter ads that can be consumed like snack nuggets in quick bites; and creating cross-media campaigns that follow consumers as they move from TV to print to mobile to online.

Another answer is possibly offered by TV shows that engagingly integrate advertising into the program, such as NBC’s new Fashion Star in which contestants compete to sell apparel designs to buyers from Saks, H&M and Macy’s. Fashion Star includes a strong web and mobile component as well so that viewers can order merchandise while or immediately after viewing.

Discussion Questions: What do you see as the best solution for reaching antsy consumers that can’t be relied on to watch traditional ads? In this new media landscape, which types of brands do you think will be most successful?

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10 Comments on "Twenty Somethings Too Antsy to Advertise To"

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Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

One possible solution in the article, “…creating cross-media campaigns that follow consumers as they move from TV to print to mobile to online…” will support a brand/product that requires a comprehensive message and not a sound bite. This approach is alien to many marketers who have relied on a single campaign that was modified to fit each medium. Typically, a print ad was an outtake or summary of a TV commercial. There was little concern about how the print medium differed in its communications parameters.

It may be that breaking down the campaign into separate components, i.e. individual parts of the message aligned with the most suitable media placement is the way to go. Not only will attention improve, but understanding and brand consideration will follow.

David Slavick
Guest
David Slavick
5 years 6 months ago

The networks are their own worst enemy. The screen is littered with multiple communications, pop-ups and promos. It’s totally distracting and the issue isn’t what form the advertising should take in length on network television, it is whether they will survive at all. Fragmentation leads to lower total HH viewership and that can’t support the cost for a :30 spot rising to cover higher operating expense. Oh yeah, I forgot, just run the majority of your prime time lineup as reality shows and keep the cost of production down.

David Biernbaum
BrainTrust

I am not overly impressed with how this research was conducted, and it seems to be a very small sample size, so I choose to take the results with a grain of salt. However, I am a huge beliver in that today’s most effective advertising and marketing campaigns are dymanically integrated into social media, where consumers are involved all day long. Yes, even those consumers that have real jobs!

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

David Slavick is on the right track. Consumers have always had short attention spans for commercial messages they are not interested in receiving. Trying to create messages that are interesting enough to hold a viewer for 30 seconds was always the biggest challenge for the ad agency. So much so that many of the best performing ads in that respect had nothing to do with the product message, driving brand types like me up the wall.

Now, fast forward into today’s environment with multiple media and thousands of “channels” available to consumers every minute of the day.

Then let’s do some math. Suppose that 1 in 10 of those 30 second spots back in the day of three networks on TV were good enough to hold your attention. And say the average consumer was exposed to 100 messages a day. So — 10 great ads.

Today we get exposed to over 20,000 messages or more a day. Are there really 2,000 ad messages that you want to watch for a full 30 (or 15 or 10) seconds every day?

Pity the poor creatives, for the odds against them are daunting!

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Only one thing works now in terms of ads — power. Power in color, power in simplicity, power in text, power in sound. The first iPod ads had all this in spades (as an example), but that formula also works for print. The old term K.I.S.S. needs only the “power” ad on to make it super relevant.

Today, in any format, you can only get someone’s attention with a punch in the face.

Jennifer Kars
Guest
Jennifer Kars
5 years 6 months ago

Personally, I have no problem with a 30 second ad. It is the 3-4 minutes of them that bore me and make me change the channel.

Frank Riso
BrainTrust

I also believe the age group of twenty something is more into social media such as Facebook and most of them would prefer texting versus making a phone call. They watch TV with their smartphone or tablet in hand and during commercials will interact with family and mostly friends on their device.

A lot of advertisers are looking at if not already finding ways to be a part of the social media today, and I think this age group has yet another area of opportunity, Gamification. Gamification is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. The twenty something population in this country was raised with games, from an early age of playing educational games to learn their letters and numbers, then on to their individual DS devices and today, it’s a tablet or smartphone for games. Why not look to reaching them with TV ads and social media ads that incorporate Gamification. I think we will need to meet some level of Gamification going forward in our education process as well as in the workforce.

Dr. Emmanuel Probst
Guest
Dr. Emmanuel Probst
5 years 6 months ago

I think brands should rely on product placement that makes sense, meaning the brand really has to be relevant in the context of the show. Sponsoring events and community outreach could also prove to be successful.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

The article speaks about twenty somethings. Wait until the next generation becomes the twenty somethings. They are completely wrapped up in technology, games and social media. We have four grandsons 16 and under. They were all together last week and spent most of their time wrapped in their digital games and texting.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Cross-media is a given nowadays. Frank Riso hit upon another important aspect: gamification. Of course it is more age-biased to younger demographics, but done well, it can reach a broader market.

Mobile is still in its infancy and a platform to be reckoned with in creative ways that far exceed “ads.” Rather, app branding and sponsored apps as well as mobile/TV convergence is a more subtle and acceptable way to reach consumer minds.

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