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How teenagers interact with media

Twitter is not for teens, and other fascinating insights

     
3:24 pm on Jul 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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A research note written by a 15-year-old Morgan Stanley intern that described his friends' media habits has generated a flurry of interest from media executives and investors.

The US investment bank's European media analysts asked Matthew Robson, an intern from a London school, to write a report on teenagers' likes and dislikes, which made the Financial Times' front page today.

His report, that dismissed Twitter and described online advertising as pointless, proved to be "one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen – so we published it", said Edward Hill-Wood, executive director of Morgan Stanley's European media team.

Read the full report in The Guardian [guardian.co.uk].

Syzygy

7:20 pm on July 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I agree. Twitter is utterly pointless in my life. It allows obsessed fans to keep up with their idols. That works until the "idols" get sick of tweeting and move on to something more constructive.

I give Twitter 2 more years, perhaps 18 months, and people will get sick of it, just as they did with MySpace.

8:44 pm on July 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Then look for consolidation in the industry- we can't be more than 36 months away from MyTwitBook. Or would that be MyFaceTwit? TwitSpaceBook?
8:51 pm on July 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I agree. Twitter is utterly pointless in my life. It allows obsessed fans to keep up with their idols. That works until the "idols" get sick of tweeting and move on to something more constructive.
I give Twitter 2 more years, perhaps 18 months, and people will get sick of it, just as they did with MySpace.

I completely agree. There is a thread here where I basically made the same statement and some people thought I was crazy.

But this Twitter thing is really useless. If young kids have abandoned it (and they did a year ago) and moved on to something else ... its doomed.

11:09 pm on July 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If Google trends is to be believed, Twitter is far from dead.
4:12 am on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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The new entity will be YouTwitFace
7:52 am on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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OTOH, P1R has started a homepage thread on the subject of Using Twitter from an SEO Perspective [webmasterworld.com]
8:54 am on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Twitter is but one small aspect of this report. In fact, it gets mentioned but twice. There are many interesting insights worthy of attention. For example:

  • Most teenagers nowadays are not regular listeners to radio... with online sites streaming music for free they do not bother...

  • As [games] consoles are now able to connect to the internet, voice chat is possible between users, which has had an impact on phone usage; one can speak for free over the console and so a teenager would be unwilling to pay to use a phone.

  • Teenagers see adverts on websites as extremely annoying and pointless...

  • Outdoor advertising usually does not trigger a reaction in teenagers...

  • They are very reluctant to pay for [music] (most never having bought a CD) and a large majority (8/10) downloading it illegally from file sharing sites.

    Whilst some of the points made may seem obvious, all told the observations are quite fascinating.

    Syzygy

  • 10:08 am on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    In summary: Free is good. They don't want to pay, and they object to their free stuff being funded by other means.

    I imagine the author, being a Morgan Stanley intern, has devised a business model that allows capitalism to function with consumption being funded by neither direct nor indirect means.

    Or, possibly, maybe he could create a market based on a lie that nobody else can understand until its too late. Now, if only he worked at a company that had a history... oh, wait.

    10:14 am on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Or, as somebody on the interwebs already commented:

    "Write a story about your friends and Morgan Stanley will publish it"

    The problem though is that the report is complete #*$! and even Morgan Stanely admits it; the introductory note states that the report isn’t “claiming representation or statistical accuracy” and that the report is based on asking the author to “describe how he and his friends use media.”
    10:47 am on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Lol - dismiss the wisdom of a child at your peril!

    Syzygy

    11:07 am on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Wisdom of a child? Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in awhile.
    11:16 am on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Que?
    12:25 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Well, my wife teaches the demographic being discussed here. Let me assure (or scare) you, the summary by this kid is spot on!
    12:44 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    It isn't very reliable to lump "teenagers" together as a single group. A 19 year old's behaviour may differ substantially from a 13 year old's. From the context of the report it really covers 15/16 year olds. I know that my interests, activities and spending power at that age had changed dramatically from a year or two previously and changed dramatically again a year or two later.
    12:52 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    I'd agree the view of the young is to get stuff free and to not allow for other ways to make money off of it. Which they're not old enough to know of is a structure that "will not last" as it is not sustainable. unfortunately they get all sorts of ventures that do exactly that for them in the hope of gaining enough momentum in order to monetize later. And a few of those succeed in the end (e.g. youtube is well on it's way - even with quite in your face advertising nowadays.)

    But then that hurts the brand of Google in these kids eyes.

    Somebody needs to teach them you get what you paid for (in the long run anyway).

    1:12 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    @swa66
    I'm sure they will be happy to work without remuneration within their cash-free utopia
    1:51 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Perhaps product placement will replace the current model, at least in some markets. Imagine a pop song. There's already a radio version and an extended club version. Perhaps one day there will be an Internet version, where the artist throws in a few products in the chorus, sort of like they do for radio promos, when they change the lyrics to include the name of the station and/or DJ.

    OK, maybe that sounds silly, but I have seen some pretty silly things in my life.

    2:28 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Sure, they hate advertising, but will buy (sorry, FILESHARE) pop songs studded with product name-drops.

    As a previous generation might have said at that age, its just lame man.

    4:05 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    No, the song would be free :)
    4:29 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Still dont think they'll listen to songs designed to pay for themselves. I was going to say that I suspect some artistic value would be lost, but what artistic value is there in todays pop songs anyway?

    Now, pop songs when I was young...

    4:39 pm on July 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Exactly! I turn on the radio, and after 30 minutes, I could swear I just listened to the same song that was 30 minutes long.

    If they added a few Pepsis here, and an iPod there, it would probably increase artistic value. :)

    10:22 am on July 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    Insightful and enjoyable, though it comes, of course, with a hefty caveat lector warning.

    Frankly, I'm not surprised that Twitter doesn't appeal to those in their mid-teens.

    Unless they're annoyingly precocious they're not likely to have started their own commercial or charitable organisation or movement or campaign, so they're not yet reaching out to a 'follower community'.

    Furthermore, territorial as teenagers are, they're not likely to be talking much to the school pupils in the years above or below them, never mind pupils at other schools.

    So everyone in their potential twitterfeed audience is in touch with them by direct SMS anyway. So why any need to broadcast one-to-many SMS messages?

    The author needs to work on thinking about which conjunctions to use (didn't we all at that age?) and his comments on consoles and PCs were a bit mixed up - by the end of the paragraph he ends up contradicting what he said at the beginning - but in general I think this young man shows a lot of promise.

    LOL @Shaddows

    3:40 pm on July 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    I'd agree the view of the young is to get stuff free and to not allow for other ways to make money off of it. Which they're not old enough to know of is a structure that "will not last" as it is not sustainable.

    I suspect they just don't want to pay for 'virtual' things (music, info etc.) which I think is quite understandable. I think you'll find most young people would be quite happy to pay to go to a music festival or concert, and this is where musicians/performers will have to make their money in the future. And I think most people would welcome a return to an emphasis on live music rather than studio produced stuff of sometimes dubious quality.

    4:10 pm on July 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    But then the question becomes... how do you fund new bands before they can fill stadiums?
    9:39 pm on July 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    bands will have to rely on youtube and the like to gain viral popularity and get noticed by organizers of concerts at which point the can earn money. In the mean time there's a void -well it's there now as well for 99.99% of them anyway, except they now don't have a chance of crossing it as organizers only use big well-known names from the record labels.

    There's also a number of tv formats that try to find talent.

    8:18 am on July 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    how do you fund new bands before they can fill stadiums?

    Gigs in smaller venues. Some bands can earn enough this way to only have to work part time, so they do have some time to spend recording stuff and rehearsing and preparing for the big time!

    Selling T-shirts and CDs at the gigs can also be a good source of income. Maybe people would be more inclined to buy a CD when they're in the party mood, rather than paying for it online, especially if it's priced quite reasonably.

     

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