Monday, 13 July 2009

Out of the mouth of babes

The financial district is (apparently) abuzz over a new report by Morgan Stanley Research into teens' online and media habits. The penetrating insights in this short document have rocked the world of media/business analysis to its very core:

[The] report was “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen — so we published it,” Edward Hill-Wood, executive director of Morgan Stanley’s European media team, was quoted as saying in articles in The Guardian and The Financial Times.
He wasn’t alone in thinking so: Mr. Hill-Wood said the research note generated five to six times the amount of interest of the team’s average note, with dozens of fund managers and a few chief executives requesting a copy.

So who is the genius behind this meisterwerk? Which freethinker shook off the hidebound shackles of recieved wisdom to deliver the definitive guide to teens' media preferences? Step forward Matthew Robson, a summer intern aged 15!, to give us the inside dope. So what were the big insights that had, until now, eluded the finest minds of the City? Brace yourselves:

Most teenagers watch television, but usually there are points in the year where they watch more than average. This is due to programs coming on in seasons, so they will watch a particular show at a certain time for a number of weeks (as long as it lasts) but then they may watch no television for weeks after the program has ended.

Teenagers listen to a lot of music, mostly whilst doing something else (like travelling or using a computer). This makes it hard to get an idea of the proportion of their time that is spent listening to music.

On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they release that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit). In addition, they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless.

Many teenagers use YouTube to watch videos...

How teenagers play their music while on the go varies, and usually dependent on wealth –with teenagers from higher income families using iPods and those from lower income families using mobile phones. Some teenagers use both to listen to music, and there are always exceptions to the rule.

I'm prepared to believe that this story is a trifle overhyped, and in particular that the CEOs of major media conglomerates are not, in fact, falling over themselves for a copy. But Morgan Stanley did see fit to publish this, and to publicly state that they've rarely seen clearer or more thought-provoking insight. If this is true - if they were genuinely taken aback to find that teens watch TV when the shows they want to watch are on, but don't when they aren't - then whoever is paying their salaries needs to seriously rethink their value to the company.


Tom Freeman said...

Did the report also reveal that "it's not FAIR"?

Andrew R said...

Kind of:

"The Wii’s dominance is due to younger brothers and sisters, they have a Wii and parents are not willing to pay for another console."

Life is so cruel.

Tom H said...

It's a long time since I was a teenager, but I'm sceptical of claims such as "99% of teenagers have a mobile phone", and "Most teenagers own a TV, with more and more upgrading to HD ready flat screens". Maybe we have, after all, eliminated child poverty. Or maybe teenagers who work for Morgan Stanley are not representative of teenagers as a whole.