I really enjoyed checking out this writeup on Silicon Alley Insider about the media habits of 8-18 year-old American kids. The study was released a few months ago by the Kaiser Family Foundation (you can see the full study here).
There are a few choice statistics in this report. The most interesting piece to me is the amount of media exposure that tweens are exposed to today, and the exponential growth rate that they’ve experienced. At 10.5 hours in 2009, kids are essentially spending every waking moment consuming media. What’s more, this represents an increase of 43% from media consumption levels from just ten years ago. I’m unsure how kids can find this kind of time in their days. It would seem to leave little time for anything else.
Studying is wasting XBox time (teen interviewee)
In most interviews taken, kids are talking about texting, listening to iPods, watching TV and playing video games, often at the same time. Social networking takes up over 2.5 hours per day. Other top time-consuming activities include playing video games and watching online videos:
I propose that this level of media exposure greatly lowers the value of advertising, in general. Let’s look a t a 30 second television advertisement. In a 10.5 hours media consumption day, that’s 1/1,260th of the media “real estate” that a kid is consuming today; is that worth the price of admission?
Additionally, it seems that kids are multitasking more than ever; which lowers the amount of attention an advertiser gets with their spot. I believe this is why media buying will move further towards measuring interactions instead of impressions. The value of simple impressions has dropped significantly in the past few years, and probably with good reason (CPMs can be purchased for less than $2 in some networks). How can advertisers be certain anyone is even exposed to their ads if they take up such a small piece of the attention pie? The only answer seems to be inserting an interaction qualifier: using QR codes, measuring clicks, using tracking URLS and other interaction-based measurements are going to increasingly become the standard. The downside of this, as Chris Dixon points out, is that buying performance tends to rewards content light sites where users go often, and click through quickly (at least for any cost-per-click or affiliate marketing programs). This creates new challenges for the media industry as a whole, as advertisers will continue to search for ways to become signal in an increasingly noisy environment.