Is Nielsen 'Myth Busting' Or Just Bolstering Traditional Media?
- June 25th, 2009
- 11 Comments
Tech Crunch posted Nielsen’s new report on How Teens Use Media, which is structured in sort of a myths vs. reality format similar to what Fuse’s Bill Carter presented (.pdf) at the Ypulse Youth Marketing Mashup. I’m not a researcher and don’t know how Nielsen actually measures engagement, but I’m just not convinced that some of their myth busting is a reflection of what’s really happening vs. wishful thinking on the behalf of the traditional media ecosystem of which Nielsen is an integral part.
For example, the reality that teens (who are in school all day and often in activities after school) spend less time online than adults, many of whom are connected to the internet at work, isn’t really surprising at all. I found the part about who media multitasks more to be a bit weak as well. On the flipside, I found Nielsen’s numbers on how many teens now have mobile internet access (as of fall of ‘09) were shockingly higher than I thought they would be—37 percent of all teen (13-17) mobile subscribers! I thought I would pull out a two of the more surprising “myths” Nielsen allegedly debunks with their research/realities and offer some Ypulse-y “possibilities.”
Myth: Teens are abandoning TV for new media Nielsen says “not so,” TV viewing is up 6 percent (3 hours and 20 minutes a day) vs. 52 minutes spent on a PC, they don’t use DVRs and and don’t watch as much online video as their older peers.
Possibility: TV might be on but are they really watching? Don Tapscott had a great image in his Mashup presentation featuring his son and his friends “watching” TV - they were all doing other things while the TV was on. It’s possible teens could be doing their homework (with actual books) in front of the TV or be doing stuff on their phones. No it’s not “10 screens at a time” but it may not be focused TV watching either. If you ask teens about TV, which I have on multiple teen panels that I’ve moderated over the past few years, many teens and young adults have said they don’t watch much TV anymore. When prodded with specific show titles, like “Family Guy,” they admit they do watch some. But when asked whether they still watch MTV, well, sorry MTV, they’re just not that into you as a network, though when pushed, they will admit to watching a specific MTV show. And if you ask them if they had to give up their TV or the internet, the internet always triumphs over TV as the essential technology. I would also speculate that as teens get older and more mobile and less homebound (i.e. have a driver’s license), the time goes down as well. So yes, they are still “watching,” but the reality is that the era of traditional television broadcasting as the dominant form of media with little competition has begun to decline.
Myth: Teens wouldn’t know a newspaper if the paperboy hit them in the face. Nielsen is claiming that more than 1 in 4 teens say they read a daily newspaper and over a third read the Sunday paper.
Possibility: Um….the teens they asked thought they meant Yahoo! News? Wanted to sound “smart”? Have ended up on newspaper sites via Google? Have a newspaper as an option on their PDA start page? Glance at a newspaper over breakfast? Sorry - this one just sounds too high.
The section of the report that addressed terrestrial radio just seemed like positive spin—16 percent of U.S. teens still listen! That doesn’t feel like a good number for radio, especially since it’s also no longer THE source for where teens discover music.
Definitely read the whole report and let us know what you think!