Archives for March 2004

The Internet's (serious) generation gap

The Internet’s (serious) generation gap.
At a New Media presentation last year, one TV sales executive had rationalized New Media advances into the TV world as a typical young peoples’ passing phase. He argued that one day, they’d grow out of it and need to take part in the real world. I’m afraid that’s a dangerous self-deception, because there’s a huge difference between today’s generation gap and those of the past. This one is driven by disruptive technologies that are, well, threatening to a lot of adults. It’s not that kids are more computer savvy; they’re savvy to a new form of communications and the market concept of conversations. This is not something they’ll give up, and it’s why the shudder you feel from Modernist institutions is the ticking of the generational clock.

Punishing a teenager by denying TV is nothing. Denial of the Internet is huge, because it’s their lifeblood, and it’s very serious to them.

Last week, I told you about the new Edison Media Research/Arbitron “Internet and Multimedia” study and displayed a chart showing the disconnect between the 12-24 age group and the Internet universe as a whole. While important, it didn’t go far enough, but the folks at Edison Media Research were kind enough to provide the missing data.

“Suppose you could never watch television again or you could never access the Internet again. Which would you be more willing to eliminate from your life?”

User group Give up TV Give up Web
Ages 12-24 54% 45%
Ages 25+ 38% 59%

Look at the striking difference between the 12-24 group and those 25+. This is what the television industry needs to see and see clearly as it struggles with what to do in the wake of declining viewership. Let me be perfectly clear. There is no way to successfully grow an audience for television anymore. The best that can be done is to rob from Peter, and that takes twice the effort and resources it used to take, because the universe is shrinking.

The age of passive participation is over. A television station without a multimedia business model is following other like-mindeds to the tar pits, because they stubbornly believe there’s food there.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day.
Author and columnist Arianna Huffington in a guest column on dailyKOS (thanks, Jeff):

“The blogosphere is now the most vital news source in our country. I’ve toiled in the world of books and syndicated column writing, but more liberating is the blogosphere, where the random thought is honored, and where passion reigns. While paid journalists often just follow a candidate around or sit in the White House press room and rehash a schedule, blogs break through the din of our 500 channel universe and the narrow conventional wisdom. For that the blogosphere has my undying gratitude.”
To which I can only add a hearty, “Amen!”

Spam and Spim, modern-day gunslingers

Spam and Spim, modern-day gunslingers.
The Register has a nice backgrounder on the scourge of Instant Messaging, SPIM. It stands for spam-laden instant messages. Buddy lists can block them, but woe to those who don’t.

The fact is, spim is not entirely new and long-time IM providers like AOL have been fighting the problem since IM was first made available. But whereas early IM fraudsters often sought to steal AOL account details, today’s version is increasingly interested in selling goods and services, with some 70 per cent of spim messages pointing to pornographic websites. Around 12 per cent involve “get rich” schemes; product sales account for nine per cent; and loans or finance messages are at five per cent, according to (the) Radicati (Group).

Still, most analysts have admitted that the spim problem may never grow to be as big a problem as emailed spam. But the intrusiveness of spim – with messages popping up on screen – makes the format somehow more insidious.

The Internet is a communications dream, and in many ways, it resembles the pioneer days of the old west. The promise of a new life keeps us going, but we have to confront a few bad guys along the way. The trouble is we’re so used to having the Sheriff take care of everything, that we’ve not learned how to defend ourselves. A little education and a few useful pieces of software go a long way towards a successful journey across the Internet frontier.

Attention, local broadcasters! (again)

Attention, local broadcasters! (again)
A new Borrell Associates report to be released tomorrow shows that local Internet ad spending in 210 markets will increase by a whopping 28.7 percent. The increase is twice the growth rate of overall Internet advertising.

We are projecting strong growth in virtually all U.S. cities. We are also seeing some very aggressive – even startling – revenue projections for local Internet operations that are the beneficiaries of this growth. Some newspaper and TV operations are projecting 80% to 100% increases in Internet revenues for 2004.
This is a significant report for broadcasters, because it reveals the size of the pie, market-by-market. Moreover, local online ad spending is projected to hit $2.7 billion, and that’s not chicken feed. Someday, broadcasters will get it — that the real growth opportunities they have are not over-the-air, but online.

Internet perfect for mini-program ads

Internet perfect for mini-program ads.
Thankfully, Madison Avenue and the Web are beginning to team up to show what each can do effectively without trampling on the other. I’m talking about the creation of streaming ads that come in the form of mini-programs. I spent about 30 minutes yesterday playing around the site with the new Jerry Seinfeld/Superman ads for American Express. This is a wonderful example of using the viral nature of the Web to expose what will be a HUGE audience to American Express. Everybody wins.

Newsday Story
Seinfeld/Superman site

Now comes word that Revlon is creating a mini-movie series of 2-minute ads starring Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Jaime King and Eva Mendes. The ads will run in movie theaters and online.

BMW has had success with its The Hire series of similar “mini-movies” featuring the likes of Madonna and Guy Ritchie.

I like these concepts, because they hit the target beautifully when it comes to Internet advertising. It’s simple Video On Demand (VOD). No “interruption.” Intelligent. Entertaining. Effective. And extremely well done.

Those crazy young people

Those crazy young people.
My youngest daughter (13) was talking about “away messages” and her AOL Instant Messenger last week, so I thought it was time to Google. Apparently, there’s a whole cottage industry developing for away messages, and sociologists are studying why. It seems that young people want to live simultaneously in the real and cyber worlds. This is especially true on college campuses. Clever away messages allow a student’s “presence” to remain online while they’re attending classes. The Web’s social network capacity is unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

Maybe that’s why last week’s Edison Media Research/Arbitron survey showed 54 percent of people aged 12-24 would rather give up their television than the Internet. This is a significant generation gap, for their parents would rather do the opposite.

Young people’s love of the Internet is confirmed in a very well-done New York Times article today:

Note to the television networks: Pete Brandel is not missing. He’s right here, but like a lot of other 20-something men he’s just not watching as much TV.

Mr. Brandel, a 24-year-old real estate agent in Chicago, says that these days he looks to the Internet for news and entertainment. Television, he says, is bogged down by commercials and teasers that waste his time.

“I’ll go to the Comedy Central Web site and download David Chappelle clips rather than wait to see them on TV,” he said.

This is an excellent article that summarizes a lot of the thought discussed here, and I recommend it to readers.

Technology is beyond second nature to young people. It’s an essential part of life. The Washington Post reports that learning HTML is becoming necessary in order to be considered cool as a young person.

Kids are learning HTML code to create their own sites, not necessarily an easy thing for the pencil-and-paper generation to accept. For those who’ve lived under an eraser for the last decade, HTML is short for “hypertext markup language,” the computer coding used to create Web pages.

“If you’re 12 or 14 and you don’t know HTML, your friends won’t respect you,” (Jamie) Riehle (global manager of Web publishing for Terra Lycos, one of the Internet companies promoting site-building) says. “There is ‘a cool geek factor.’ Smart is cool again.”

The research firm, Grunwald Associates, estimates there are about 2 million sites created by kids age 6 to 17. By next year, there could be 6 million or more. Grunwald estimates that 9 percent of kids age 9 to 12 have their own sites.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Reuters reports that a teenage girl flew into a rage and chased her mother around their flat with a knife and wooden pole after she confiscated the teenager’s mobile phone. The woman had to barricade herself in the bathroom until authorities arrived.

Obsessive? Nah.