Harnessing the Power of Media Research to Effectively Reach Teens

Market research is a valuable tool when considering media placement, especially for a brand with limited advertising budgets.   No longer a resource solely relegated to media planning, research can help toy and game marketers navigate the media-saturated marketplace, understand their media consumption, and hone their targets and messages – especially when the target is the hard-to-reach American teen.

Teens represent the fastest growing population within the United States and a significant portion of the American consumer public. Why is it so difficult for advertisers to reach this group with their messaging?  Because today’s teens have many media vehicles at their disposal:

  • Television (more specifically, cable television) offers programming specifically targeted towards teens; however, technology now gives viewers the ability to record the show and fast-forward through commercials.  
  • The magazine competitive landscape for teens is vast – SRDS currently lists 52 active publications targeted towards teens, including Boys’ Life, DC Comics, Game Pro, Girls’ Life, J-14, and Teen Vogue. 
  • Internet penetration is at an all-time high, with more and more teen-targeted sites popping up daily. 
  • Mobile phone usage and ownership among teens is also up. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 85% of U.S. teens aged 15-18 own a mobile phone, as compared to 56% just five years earlier.

A Kaiser Family Foundation study, published in January 2010, found that the only media activity that hasn’t increased among teens over the past 10 years is reading traditional print media.

So … what is the best way to reach teens in a media-saturated market? 

A recent study published by Scarborough Research and Arbitron (Teen Mall Shopping Insights White Paper – June 2009) found that 68% of teen mall shoppers spend more than two hours at the mall on a typical visit, and that 95% of teen mall shoppers notice any form of advertising. 

Teen-focused market research studies such as those provided by GfK MRI and Experian Simmons (resources that your media agency should subscribe to) will better position advertisers to reach their targets than those who go blindly into the market and buy what they “think” teens are watching. Both firms conduct studies of teens in the U.S. and offer access to consumer databases and syndicated studies that provide a wealth of information about target audiences:

  • GfK MRI’s product, Teenmark®, measures approximately 3,600 respondents in the U.S. aged 12-19 years. Teenmark® measures audiences for magazines, newspapers, radio, and television, psychographics and buying habits, and lifestyle preferences. 
  • Experian Simmons’ version, Teen Study, measures a sample of approximately 2,500 teens aged 12-17 years old. The study is released twice a year and provides measurement of demographic and lifestyle characteristics, media consumption, product preferences and usage, and ownership of products and services.  

Using subscription based software, users can select their target by demographic data (sex, age, geography) and find out almost anything they want to about the target with regards to media consumption – what magazines they read, what TV stations they’re watching, what TV shows skew the highest against the target, and much, much more.  Buying trends such as where they shop, when they shop, and what category items they’re shopping for are also available.

“By utilizing available research on teen media consumption and shopping habits, advertisers are not only more educated about teen lifestyles, but better equipped to effectively direct their message to engage with their teen target,” says Deirdre Nisbet, Associate Media Director at Blue Plate Media Services.  “The US media landscape is growing and shifting more rapidly than ever. Research can help advertisers adjust their targeting strategies and keep up with emerging and growing trends, potentially saving time and valuable advertising dollars.” 

For information and a free consultation on media research and smart, efficient, integrated media solutions that reach and engage with your kids - and mom-focused consumer, contact Blue Plate Media Services (908-918-0202); info@blueplatemedia.net or www.blueplatemedia.net/tia). 

Blue Plate Media is a strategic media partner with the Toy Industry Association and a media advocate for members.