All The Kids Are Doing It (Part 4)

All The Kids Are Doing It 4While it’s true that many adults use text messaging and hang out on MySpace, evolutionary leaps in digital communications for the most part tend to be driven by the youth market. That could be due in part to the peer-influence factor: A global joint study by MTV, Nickelodeon, and Microsoft said that 55 percent of viral video content they downloaded, and 88 percent of website links they viewed, came from friends’ recommendations.

Such research illustrates the importance of using digital marketing with this coveted demographic. But it’s far from child’s play. This series, ”All The Kids Are Doing It,” tells marketers what to keep in mind if they want to reach young consumers digitally and effectively. In preceding installments, we talked about mobile marketing, email campaigns, and social networks (the latter two also addressed online privacy regulations related to minors). Today we’ll talk about the latest in Internet technology, from multimedia content like podcasts and video blogs to more active pursuits such as widgets.

Part 4: Web 2.0

Conventional wisdom is that kids are best reached via the Internet. However, brands that want to reach the youth demographic must be cautious. Teens, ”tweens,” and young adults don’t always use technology in the same way as older consumers. And while the under-21 set is keen to adopt most technologies more quickly than their big siblings or parents (for example, texting in the United States was initially marketed as a fun alternative to passing notes about a ”cute” male celebrity), there are some technologies – or uses therein – that youthful consumers don’t employ.

The following breaks down a few technologies with which traditional marketers might not be familiar. We’ve suggested ways to incorporate them into your marketing strategy, and explained whether or not they’re ideal for reaching the youth demographic:

Podcasts/Videocasts

What it is: The two great things about podcasts and videocasts – audio or video recordings – is that (1) a person can download and listen to them at his/her convenience; and (2) they’re extremely targeted. For example, the teen-produced Snapecast caters to Harry Potter readers who love the misunderstood hero of the book series. ”The medium is maturing at a rapid pace and has already proven itself to be a highly targeted, relevant, and – most important – measurable channel for marketers,” Greg Cangialosi, author of Podcast Academy: The Business Podcasting Book, recently told ClickZ.

How it should be used: Irina Slutsky, darling of the video blogging world and one of the organizers for such videocasting awards as The Winnies and The Vloggies, gave me some advice on marketing to teens via podcasts and vlogs. In order to be non-irritating to teen viewers/listeners, she suggested, ”Make the ad interesting or cool and extremely short – eight seconds or less.” We at mobileStorm think such an ad could be a video that flashes a short code to which interested viewers can send a text in order to find out more about a brand. The viewers don’t want a marketer to take up much time at that moment and, we believe, will appreciate being able to ”get back to” the advertiser later.

Caution: Concerns on the part of both advertisers and content providers can make marketing to teens on this medium problematic. On one hand, ”Many independent producers don’t like to promote products or companies they don’t like, such as companies that don’t respect privacy rights,” Ms. Slutsky told me. On the other hand, she said, marketers ”won’t advertise on content they think will lower their brand value – so clearly, even though porn is the most successful money-making venture online, Sprint will never advertise with them. Well, never say never.”

Widgets

What it is: Ever use the widget that lets you ”throw food” at a friend’s social networking page? Yeah, me neither. But the small, simplified applications called widgets are causing a lot of buzz. Teens in particular love the way these things enhance their experience on a social network. Marketers like the fact that they’re viral. ”With widgets, we’ve had some good experiences. We’re seeing click-through rates of 10 percent, and engagement beyond that click is also very high,” Digitas vice president and media director Jordan Bitterman told MediaPost. According to comScore, more than 81 million North American consumers were exposed to Web widgets in April (widgets that can be embedded on Web pages, not desktop or downloaded widgets).

How it should be used: But as popular as they are, widgets require a specific strategy to monetize them. ”You can’t just build a widget, put it somewhere and they will come. The initial burst comes from seeding the widget inline with content,” Maurice Boissiere, vice president of client services for the widget development and management firm Clearspring Technologies, reportedly said at the OMMA (Online Media, Marketing, and Advertising) conference.

Caution: Because widget success relies on the user being drawn in by content or by the social networking experience, marketers should not rely on solely widgets for branding. A brand still needs to pair widgets with other strategies like permission-based messaging in order to get the most out of online marketing.

RSS

What it is: RSS (Really Simple Syndication) gives end-users regular updates regarding whatever content interests them, similar to subscriptions to a newspaper, magazine, or permission-based emails.

How it should be used: It’s great for news sites whose adult readers want the most up-to-the-minute information. One might think that teens would use RSS to get the content they want, too, but”¦.

Caution: According to Forrester Research, about 75 percent of youths aged 13 to 17 ”have never heard of RSS,” and about 15 percent have heard of it ”but have not used it.” Of teens who do use RSS, a plurality – 34 percent – use it less than once a week.

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It’s obvious that kids and teens are eager adopters of much of the latest Internet technology. What’s harder to determine is the exact technology they like to use. Even more difficult is for marketers to figure out the best way to leverage these technologies in branding. Marketers need to take heed that young consumers are extremely wary or marketing that intrudes on their online experience. But they’ll welcome marketing that enhances that experience.

Next time: Putting it all together.

Eydie Cubarrubia,
Marketing Communications Manager

 

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