Sep 292005

Joshua 23 © Gary Hayes 2005Emerging media has always been a generational thing. How many of our mums and dads frowned at the internet? How many of my generation are not really that much into SMS? How many twenty-some-things don’t quite get that ring tone thang? Most of us are bound in the media environment we grow up in, I personally still remember the first VHS’s coming out and vaguely recall the launch of colour TV but feel a bit of a narrowbander – what should we call the new generation?

Well according to two recent studies they will be called the “My Media Generation”. Yahoo! and OMD’s report talks about the appetite for personalized media from the 13-24 year olds and a similar report posted on eContent points out that 83% of 18-24’s demand personalization! This is pretty incredible considering the “no-machine-is-gonna-get-stuff-for-me” attitude that has been around for the last decade or so.

“A key finding from this study is that members of the My Media Generation can fit up to 44 hours of activities in just one day,” said Joe Uva, president and CEO, OMD Worldwide. “Their ability to perform up to three tasks simultaneously, using multiple technologies, allows them to potentially increase their media consumption during their average waking hours. Combine this with the demand for personalization, and there’s a clear message for marketers on the need to personalize and possibly increase the frequency of their messages in order to reach today’s youth.”

I can only suspect that a generation growing in to a media world of too much choice, have decided, that rather than hide from it, actually embrace the need to multitask. In the process though they do in fact reach overload and the only course of action then is to rely on agents get things they want. My recent post on Dawn of Video Personalization talks about how this can be enabled. I will refrain from now on as talking about this generation as some strange new alien form, in fact I totally emphasize with their predicament – having grown-up through emerging media and part of complex advanced media production, I too force myself to multitask. One of the motivations of the ‘agent’ aspects of this blog is too be part of a community of producers helping a media overdosed humanity out.

The report mentions that young people in UK, Germany and Australia (the most active youngsters on the planet) are busy with at least 4 other tasks while surfing the web. The eContent report then adds symptom of this by pointing out that to overcome overload, 60% of consumers are happy to spend at least 2 minutes answering questions to get personalized content. But the older we get the more concerned about privacy and the probable spamming we get:

“Based on the fear of losing personal information, fewer consumers than last year are willing to provide personal preference and demographic information in exchange for personalized content, according to the survey. In 2005, 59% of respondents indicated a willingness to provide preference information, down six percent from 2004. Additionally, 46% of respondents are willing to provide demographic data in 2005, down 11% from 2004.”

Personalizing media does indeed seem very generational. As the TV coach potato moves into the older generation, the My Media Generation now use the TV, as ambient, background wallpaper.

“While young people are increasingly turning to the Internet for content and functions traditionally served by other media outlets, they are still active users of TV, radio, magazines, and to a lesser extent, newspapers. TV serves as a mechanism for escape and entertainment. It is frequently on in the background, and “must see” shows like “The OC” are popular topics of conversation. For comedy, TV is the most popular medium, cited by almost 50 percent of youth, while for fashion, magazines are the clear No. 1 choice.’

What does all this mean for new types of services I hear you ask? It does suggest the future is definitely cross-media, across multiple platforms. The My Media Generation are used to multi-tasking, they are used to browsing and jumping between devices and physical locations. Services that use this, that create story and engage the MMG world, permeate it and play on the fact that as multitaskers they are already running self-induced parallel narratives. As service producers we need to provide them with cohesive, multi-device, multi-media-type experiences – then add the personalization layer on as well, just to make things that little more interesting!

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005