Monday, January 25, 2010

Get Ready for the Always Wired, Multi-Tasking, Short Attention Span Customer

Whether you’re in consumer or B2B, your future buyers will be history’s least patient, hardest to reach, time-shifting customer segment.

If it seems the kids in your life are seemingly tethered throughout their waking hours to some kind of electronic or multimedia device, you’re not alone. Experts say kids and teens (ages eight to 18) spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, a full 60 minutes more per day than they did five years ago, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

What’s more, the Kaiser survey did not count the 90 minutes kids spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cell phones. And because so many kids and teens are multitasking — i.e. surfing the Internet while listening to music, or texting while watching a recent episode of iCarly they’ve just downloaded with a friend — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours. The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 students in grades 3 to 12 that was conducted from October 2008 to May 2009.

Even NBC and Conan O’Brien learned the hard way that his alleged late night fan base – the 18 to 34 age group, especially the 18-25’ers – is damningly hard to reach via conventional television. A Nielsen Media Research study showed that the late night time period is one of the peak hours for DVR playback viewing, with nearly eight percent of all playback taking place between 11 pm and 2 am. And as Bnet’s Catherine Taylor pointed out, almost three fourth’s (73%) of viewers of prime time dramas now regularly skip the commercials.

On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the Kaiser study found. They spend almost another hour on “old” content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Youths now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cell phones, or playing games, than talking on them.

The Kaiser study found young people’s media consumption grew far more in the last five years than it did from 1999 to 2004, as sophisticated mobile technology like iPods and smart phones brought media access into teenagers’ pockets and beds. Researchers also noticed that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems, obesity and lower grades.

If there was any silver lining to the Kaiser report, it was that the heaviest media users reported spending a similar amount of time exercising as the light media users. Many say the current youth generation is woefully out of shape and devoid of fresh air, but at least it’s an across the board problem. And we’re not necessarily training an army of future brainiacs or software geniuses.

While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school.

It would have been nice if the Kaiser folks could have taken the research to the next level: Determine whether heavy media use causes problems, or whether troubled youths turn to heavy media use as an escape. The study found that young people used less media in homes that had rules prohibiting television during meals or in the bedroom, or with limits on media time.

When will ad dollars follow the eyeballs online?

The average American spends 34 percent of their time online, but advertisers only allocate 12 percent of their budgets to Internet marketing, according to Forrester Research’s latest interactive forecast. It’s hard to believe a demand gap this size still exists as we enter the second decade of the new millennium, but it’s true. What’s more, only three in five surveyed marketing execs said they’ll be boosting their interactive budgets in 2010.

For example, e-mail marketing generates an ROI of $43.62 for every dollar spent, according to The Direct Marketing Association, making it the top performing direct marketing medium. In second place, search marketing, which generates $21.85 for ever y dollar invested.

U.S. Magazines Lose a Quarter of Ad Pages in 2009

On top of TV’s woes, the print folks took it on the chin again last year. New data from Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) confirms it – American magazines were about 58,340 ad pages thinner (about 25 percent) than they were in 2008 and about one third thinner than they were at the start of the decade. According to PIB data, American consumer and trade magazines ran about 170,000 pages in 2009 compared to nearly 230,000 pages in 2008 and 238,000 in 2001 – the previous worst year on record when publishers lost 17.2 percent of their ad pages in the post 9/11 slump.

Media job picture

More than one-third of U.S. employees expect a raise in the next year and 65 percent believe they'll probably get at least part of the bonus they deserve, according to the Q4 Employment Confidence Survey.

However, optimism about the job market is tempered with fear: more employees (38 percent) think it is unlikely they'd be able to find a new job in six months than those who said it was likely (33 percent). A new survey by The Conference Board found less than half (45%) of U.S. workers lucky enough to have jobs in this economy are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61 percent in 1987, the first year the survey was done.

Experts say with fewer jobs available, more people than usual are staying in jobs they dislike or find unrewarding. Marketers take note: The Conference Board expects significant turnover once the jobless rate falls and workers feel free to release themselves from their current workplace constraints. It may come as no surprise that job security is at a two-decade low. Fewer than half of U.S. workers (47.4%) say they feel secure in their jobs, the lowest level since the Conference Board survey began in 1987. Now is a good time to make sure your employees are at least content, if not happy. When the black cloud over the employment market finally lifts (typically a year after the official end of the recession), we agree with Conference Board that there will be a massive increase in career exploration if not outright turnover.

Americans think their own jobs are pretty safe, though they worry about their cubemates: 20 percent of workers are concerned they may be laid off in the next six months but 40 percent are concerned that coworkers may get pink-slipped. As the rate of job losses slows nationwide, it’s not surprising that employees exhibit more confidence in their future job security and financial outlook, but the challenge will be reconciling employees’ rising expectations of returning to their previous pay level or ability to change jobs with the realities most companies are facing to get back on solid ground, career and workplace expert, said in a statement.

Highlights of Media Bistro’s new jobs report:

• There are more companies hiring for fewer positions. In 2007, the top 10 posters on's board accounted for 19 percent of all postings; in 2009, those same companies accounted for just 8 percent of listings.

• Though there were fewer jobs posted in 2009 than 2008, some categories gained market share. Those are:
o PR, with a 22% gain in market share
o Marketing, with an 18% gain
o And online/new media, with a 15% gain.
The categories that fared worst were:
o TV, with a 19% decline in market share
o Teaching, with a 13 percent drop in 2009
o And magazine publishing, advertising, and graphic design, tied for a 9 percent drop in share.

Final thoughts on Consumer Electronic ShowFrom Media Post’s Aaron Barr: And, while the technology was impressive, several attendees were unsure that consumers were ready or willing to put 3-D in their homes. Some said vision problems hamper their ability to view 3-D images, while others complained about getting headaches after watching 3-D for too long. But perhaps the most cogent argument revolved around price. Considering -- as the Consumer Electronics Association has pointed out in its sales figures -- that many consumers have already upgraded their televisions from cathode tubes to flat screens at a premium, it may simply be too soon to expect them to shell out thousands of dollars more for another television set. But perhaps the most cogent argument revolved around price. Considering -- as the Consumer Electronics Association has pointed out in its sales figures -- that many consumers have already upgraded their televisions from cathode tubes to flat screens at a premium, it may simply be too soon to expect them to shell out thousands of dollars more for another television set.

Blogger Alan D.(“Newsosaur”) Mutter had a smart take on the future of tablet PCs. Click here to read

Summary: If you need to reach the younger audience, then you better wake up to the fact that they can’t be fooled easily, they won’t put up with repetitive or non-relevant messaging, and they’ll tell you what they want – you won’t be telling them. And guess what? The older demos are following the same pattern as well. Instead of stressing so much about how you’re going to spend your budget this year, think about how you’re going to create messaging that resonates with an increasingly fickle – an unforgiving -- customer base that has more choice than ever.


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