E-Marketers: Looking for a Few More Good Men

When it comes to online target markets, males between the ages of 18 and 34 are a juicy lot for advertisers. However, getting those males in the cross hairs of their messages these days is becoming increasing problematic for marketers.

“The expanding but elusive segment of U.S. men age 18 to 34 accounted for nearly 27 percent of the total male Internet user population in 2006,” explains a report released this week by eMarketer of New York City.

“Marketers,” the report continues, “have scratched their heads over the best ways to reach this group with their brand messages as these men log fewer hours watching television and spend more time multitasking online, playing games, downloading videos, music and podcasts and even window-shopping.”

15 Percent Jump

Marketers who can’t suss out how to reach young males now will only find their problems compounding in the future as more and more of those males flock to the Net for their entertainment.

The eMarketer report predicts that the online population of 18-to-34-year-old males will increase to 26.6 million in 2011 from 23.2 million in 2006, a jump of 15 percent.

Historically, marketers have had problems impressing their messages on young men in the 18 to 34 group, observed the author of the report, analyst Darren Bosik.

“They tend to have short attention spans,” he told the E-Commerce Times, “and these days they’re always doing things in multiple media — watching TV while checking their e-mail or playing games.”

“That makes it hard to get the message through, to get the message to sink in,” he continued. “Now it’s even more difficult with DVRs [digital video recorders] and skipping through commercials.”

Consistent Message Needed

Multii-tasking and an absence of routine media habits also makes the age group less of a sitting duck to hit with marketing messages, added Jarvis Coffin, CEO of Burst Media, a Burlington, Mass., operator of an Internet advertising network.

“You’re not talking about people at home at the supper table watching the evening news,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “They’re very much on the go, and they’re multi-dimensional from a media standpoint.”

How do you reach a moving target like 18- to 34-year-olds?

“You have to reach them digitally,” declared Coffin. “The Internet and mobile communications are two key media drivers for reaching this segment.”

Bosik added, “You have to have a consistent message across all different media — television, streaming video, podcasts, blogs.”

Quality Sell

Podcasts — which are a kind of time-displaced radio programming — definitively attract some of the hard-to-reach targets evading marketers, noted Tom Webster, vice president of Edison Media Research in Somerville, N.J., a company that’s conducted surveys on the podcast phenomenon.

“Nationwide, the number of people who have downloaded podcasts is about 13 percent,” he told the E-Commerce Times, “and a lot of those people are people increasingly difficult to reach with traditional media. They’re not listening to commercial radio, they’re not watching as much commercial TV, they have pop-up blockers on their browsers.”

Although Edison estimates that 32 percent of the podcast audience is in the 18 to 34 group, that audience’s size makes it a qualitative buy for marketers.

“A big part of what a marketer is buying is a level of engagement,” he explained. “If someone downloads a podcast and listens to it, that listener is showing more commitment or engagement with that media than they would be with a more passive form of media.”

The Game’s the Thing

Another digital draw for 18-to-34-year-olds is gaming, added Bosik, of eMarketer.

“Men in this age group are logging more hours both online playing games and using game platforms,” he said.

Surveys have shown that gaming console penetration of the 18 to 34 segment to be very high — nearly 70 percent — observed Jay Sampson, vice president for North American and Asian Pacific Sales for Massive, a Los Angeles-based distributor of advertising to games.

“If a marketer wants to reach the young demographic, gaming is becoming a must-buy medium because that’s where they’re spending their time,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

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