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Saturday, March 08, 2008

What Teens Want Online and on Their Phones

From SXSW - Austin
Jennifer Helm

We always hear that it is the young are who are leading this journey into the technology age, and in particular, when it applies to marketing. This panel discussion was from the mouth of babes and what they respond to, how they use technology in their daily lives, and what really drives them nuts.

The speakers were a group of kids ranging in age from 12 to 17. They described their core needs online were socializing and expression. Their favorite sites were the obvious: Facebook, Myspace, and music sites, but what I found interesting is that game sites were an afterthought. Yes, they all go to the game sites, but only when they had time to waste. From the sound of it, they were too busy with homework, sports, and friends to really spend a lot of time gaming. Ruinscape and Swinky came up with the younger kids, and Halo with the older crowd, but those were only explored when they had extra time.

When asked what their turn-off online was, it was unanimous that they all hated annoying ads. Pop ups, forced expandables, ads with automated sound, etc. When asked about rebelling against the advertisers it was pretty apparent that they understood why the ads were there (to pay for the sites), but they actually wanted ads that were targeted behaviorally. One kid who loves basketball said he didn’t like that there was beer ads on, but he was excited to see ads by Nike showing the latest shoe. They also responded well to fun banners with little games or some sort of interaction in them. They would get drawn into the game and liked that they didn’t have to leave the site to play with it.

The subject of video online came up, and in respect to the ads within the videos on sites like and, it was unanimous that they all found the interstitial ads annoying. As we all know, this is an area that needs to be figured out. However, they all liked being able to catch up on missed TV shows, or watch foreign TV programming on these sites – especially

So, back to social networking. Yes, they have facebook and myspace pages (and yes, they lie about their age), but that is not their 1st form of communication with their friends. They all agreed that they would rather talk to someone on the phone or text to make plans. They used their pages as more of a virtual scrap book, to show what they did, rather than what they are going to do.

Last but not least, the subject of cell phones came up. The older kids loved their text. This is where they can keep in touch with everyone. After reading the article in Wired this month about Freeconimics, I can only figure that text will have to be the next free thing.

More thoughts later!


Anonymous said...

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