Study: Teens Use Net More Than TV

Teens spend more time online than watching television, meaning marketers looking to reach this lucrative demographic need to reorient their media spending to better reflect young adults’ habits, according to a study commissioned by Yahoo! and ad agency Carat North America .

The study found that the Internet has dramatically altered media consumption in this demographic. While the stereotypical teen used to be thought of as a couch potato, that image should now be altered to be a computer geek. According to Harris, youths spend 16.7 hours online in the average week, against 13.6 hours watching TV and 12 hours listening to the radio. The phone occupied 7.7 hours. Unsurprisingly, books and magazines not related to school came in dead last at 6 hours.

The study is based on a Harris Interactive poll undertaken of 2,500 teens and young adults aged 13 to 24 and focus group research by Teen Research Unlimited.

Wenda Harris Millard, Yahoo!’s chief sales officer, said too often marketers have not changed their media habits to match those of “Millenials” — the name some have given folks in this age group.

“Marketers have been using the same media strategies since television became the primary medium for most market segments back in the 1950s,” she said in a statement. “It’s time to rethink.”

Yahoo! and Carat Interactive commissioned the poll as a centerpiece of its “Born to be Wired” conference on Thursday, held on Yahoo!’s Sunnyvale, Calif., campus (See’s coverage and photos). The aim was to provide a venue for marketers to discuss how to tap into the changing lifestyles of the Millenials.

In addition to speeches by teen experts like historian and economist Neil Howe, author of Millenials Rising, Yahoo! had six teens reconstruct their bedrooms at its offices, so marketers can observe them.

The study estimates the young-adult population in the United States is 47 million, wielding $149 billion in annual spending. For some time, marketers have focused heavily on this demographic, although the study finds that too often they have treated the disparate group as an undifferentiated whole.

Instead, the Yahoo!/Carat model neatly divides the Millenials into six groups, each of which has different goals and habits online. For example, the “now crowd” uses media heavily and the Net for specific goals. Meanwhile, the “alter-egos.coms” go online for acceptance and to discover new things.

In all, the study found the Millenials turn to the Internet for its limitless possibilities for entertainment, information and community — and for the feeling of control it gives people. Focus group participants complained that TV was too structured.

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