How Teens Consume Digital Media: The Cliffs Notes
October 18, 2016
Learning how teenagers consume digital media can clue advertisers in to the channels and targeting most likely to reach them. In this post, we’ll break down the top things marketers need to know before launching digital campaigns aimed at 14- to 19-year-olds.
Let’s start with the basics: Where are teens spending their time online?
From a duration perspective, the most popular digital activities for teenagers stack up in the following ways, on average:1
- Watching TV/Videos: 2 hours and 38 minutes each day
- Listening to Music: 1 hour and 54 minutes each day
- Gaming: 1 hour 21 minutes each day
YouTube is the most popular destination for both video and audio consumption and is widely used on mobile devices. Believe it or not, teens do still watch TV, but a digital strategy allows a lower cost to entry and better hypertargeting capabilities.
Wait a minute…the kids aren’t on social media? Well, they are, in concentrated amounts. According to a study by Common Sense Media, teenagers spend an average of 1 hour and 11 minutes a day on social media. This is still a significant opportunity, but for advertisers, it is one that may only represent a supplement to video and audio-focused channels. More on this later.
Let’s break down teen social media use:
What social networks are teens using? Mostly Facebook, despite its reputation as your grandma’s social network. The behemoth platform remains the most used social media site among U.S. teens aged 13 to 17, with 71 percent of all teens using the site, even as half of teens use Instagram 40% use Snapchat.3
Twitter use has grown considerably among teens, and is in fourth place. In fact, within a period of two years, the number of teens using Twitter went from 16 to 24 percent.2 But don’t think of Twitter as a comprehensive social hub for teens—the average teenager only has 79 followers on the network, leading us to believe that it’s a more close-knit, personal network than, say, Facebook, where the typical (median) teen has 300 friends.2
When should I target teens on Social Networks?
While we’re on the topic of Facebook, let’s take a look at Balihoo customer data collected from marketing to this age group on Facebook and Instagram through a “Website clicks” campaign on both networks. When we dove into the data, we found an interesting correlation between KPIs and time of day. Take a look:
Notice how the highest volume of clicks comes in the early morning hours, somewhere between 5 and 7 a.m. Doesn’t this contradict everything we know about teenagers? Aren’t they in bed in the morning? Perhaps—but if they are, they seem to be checking their social accounts, and therefore interacting with advertising, before getting out of bed.
Ready for your pop quiz? Here’s a quick study guide for digital marketers planning campaigns aimed at teenagers.
Teens 101: Use Facebook Advertising to serve ads on both Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has the volume, whereas Instagram has the conversion power. According to the Pew Research Center, middle-to-upper-class teens—a desirable target audience for many verticals, like retail—are those most likely to have Instagram accounts relative to lower classes. Regardless of target, the great thing about Facebook Advertising is the platform’s ability to share a campaign budget across the two networks and automatically optimize toward the network that is providing the most benefit to your bottom line. This makes it a simple choice.
Teens 201: Invest in video. Remember that watching television shows and videos remains the number one thing that teens do online. Launch video campaigns on YouTube (through AdWords) and all appropriate social networks, and take advantage of the immense reach and unprecedented hypertargeting that these platforms provide. It really is a combo that’s hard to beat.
Teens 301: Now that you’re an upperclassman in digital marketing to teens, it’s time to focus on day parts. Just as television advertisers have been doing for decades, digital advertisers are now optimizing their campaigns for certain periods of the day, through techniques like bid adjustments.
Resist starting your ads at 9 a.m., when CPC seems to be highest, and instead take advantage of early morning (when clicks peak) and evening (when clicks are cheaper). Study your results, then take actions to ensure you’re remaining competitive during peak engagement and conversion hours.
- Common Sense Media, 2015
- Pew Research Center, Internet & American Life Project, 2013
- Pew Research Center, Teens Relationships Survey, 2015