Sunday, March 9, 2008

How to reach teens via the Internet

This was a panel with 8 teenagers who answered questions from a moderator and the audience:

Although many of them said they could not live without their phones, they all agree that the still don’t use them to watch video. Their main use (other then for calling, of course) is to text so they are very conscious of the cost of texting.

They all talked about having avatars in a virtual world but they all agreed that the do not spend a lot of time in these room. One of the complaints is that it was a little boring after checking it out the first time and then that they felt like there were too many people trying to “pick them up” and that made them feel uneasy.
In addition, they were turned off by the cost of these sites. $15 a month is a lot more then they are willing to spend.

A few commented that the idea of role-playing was sort of fun but now that they are in high school, their more focused on their “real” life and getting ready for college.

When asked about “user generated content” they all agreed that they were very much into that. They loved shooting video or creating their own ads and uploading them to the web. They were very big on companies requesting people make their own ads or participating in contest to win prizes. The idea of having their ad actually air on TV was very cool. “It’s very cool because they’ll use it. Makes me feel like I have something important to say.”

“When a I see a brand asking for my creative… When they open the creative process up to the general market, it makes me respect them more. They respect my ideas. They are saying I am capable of making ads. It makes me feel good.”

Some kids talked about how they use YouTube as a source of information…including political info. They like to know what is going on in the world. The Onion is another site that has really caught he attention of the younger audience because of their irreverent and sarcastic voice. Things that really catch their attention tend to be funny or view issue from a different, unexpected angle. CNN.com for example is a sight they will not visit because they feel it is the same old story. “The news is so dead.”
They will use the internet a great deal to research things that are important to them. For example, on Hispanic teenager talked about her Quincianera party. She said that the Internet was her number one resource to get info on dresses, shoes, etc.

There were also a lot of comments on the “world issues” use of the Internet. They commented on the site where you answer questions and for every correct answer they will donate rice to Africa. They felt that this interactive participation really helps keep their interest and involvement high. Helping people face to face is still more important but doing it via the Internet can be fun and productive too. Some of them have friends that talk about social issues on their MySpace pages. Some have been influenced by “Don’t Drink and Drive” campaigns that have run on the Internet. Other visit NBC.family.com to catch shows they like. There seems to be less reliability on TV and more catching up with shows on the Internet.
They expressed a great dislike for ads (pop up banners) on the Internet. However, they are very conscious that advertising will always be there in order to “fund” the Internet. They do wish that marketers would keep ads relevant to what their interest are and appropriate for the site. Seeing ads on Google is okay. Seeing a bunch of ads on their MySpace page is “stupid” and disruptive.

Many of these kids are very website loyal. Disney came up as a web site they will visit a lot to catch up on show they missed on TV.

The teens love websites with flash games. It’s the type of thing they will keep coming back too and even tell other friends about. A lot of these kids love getting on different sites during their tech classes and have even figured out how to get around block that their school have created and get into sites they want to see.

When asked about “getting out side” and not being chained to their computers, many of the kids laughed. The idea that they were stuck on their computers was ridiculous. Many of them played team sports and were very active. They have found a comfortable balance between being indoors on the computer and being outdoors. Being technology savvy no longer means being a geek.

When asked about making plans to get together, the teens were asked what technology they use. The number one was simply calling them up. But high on the list was also texting. Many kids had jobs or would be in classes so texting was preferred. They do not post on bulletins or MySpace because there is no guarantee their friends will see it and they don’t feel comfortable having EVERYONE wee their messages. Asking over MySpace was seen as “lame.”

When asked about what marketers needed to know about them, they all clearly said that marketers needed to realize that they were not na├»ve consumers. They are not going to click on a banner just because it says, “You have won a prize!” Teens know that marketers are trying to get their info and email addresses.