Thursday, July 05, 2007

Alloy Media Releases Findings from Social Networking and Advertising Study

Via businesswire.com;
Report Offers Important Guidance To Advertising Effectively Within Expanding Social Networking Arena

Key Findings Reveal 71% of Online Teens and Tweens visit SN sites weekly while marketers gain impact and influence. More than half of all teensand nearly half of all online 9-17 year olds reported participation in advertiser-branded interactive activities in past month.

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alloy Media + Marketing (Nasdaq:ALOY) today released findings from a white paper, commissioned from a recent national study conducted by Grunwald Associates, that delves into tween and teen behaviors and attitudes about advertising within the social networking environment. The white paper examines youth as well as parental perceptions about advertising across social media and presents advertisers with solutions to facilitate effective campaigns.

The study validates that social networking is now an embedded component in the lifestyles of online teens and tweens. 81% of online 9-17 year olds say that they have visited a social networking website within the past 3 months. 71% of online 9-17 year olds visit these sites at least weekly. In a broader context, 96% of online teens/tweens report ever having used any type of social networking technology including IM/chat, text messaging and email. With social networkings increasing status, the white paper provides advertisers crucial insights to successfully navigate a world in which youth command increasing control and provides guidance to help brands enhance youth perception, avoid being alienated by their young friends and benefit from this revolutionary opportunity to redefine their relationship with these consumers and to make a positive impact on their online social experience.

Samantha Skey, EVP, Strategic Marketing, Alloy Media + Marketing states, As the social networking population has grown, so has the sophistication and intensity of users engagement and activities across the space. The swift pace at which new applications infiltrate and enhance user experience are challenging brands, and offering them an opportunity to regain relevance. Kids want more freebies, more connection and more production utilities, and brands have the opportunity to jump in and facilitate.

The report reveals that teens and tweens are using the SN forum for a wide range of activities from music and video sharing, blogging and member surfing to more sophisticated authoring activities such as site building and content creation with increasingly high frequency. Further, with the significant growth of online activity, findings prove social networking use is approaching near parity with TV time among online 9-17 year olds that use SN. In fact, the majority of teens are spending more time with new media than traditional media and when asked where their mindshare goes while they multitask between TV and online, the proportion who say they focus mainly online exceeds those who say they focus mainly on television by more than 4:1.

User experience with advertising offers additional insights into the role marketers play in the online space. Nearly half (47%) of 9-17 year olds, including more than half (55%) of teens, report participation in one or more advertiser branded activity types in the last month. While consumers tend to say they prefer most of their online experiences be void of too many commercial messages, the study found that kids, as well as their parents, will welcome brands that provide them with a distinct value proposition that enhances their identity and overall online experience. Both kids and their parents agree that social networking offers a platform ripe with opportunity to be educated, entertained and engaged and that marketers can effectively co-exist, and be fully embraced, if theyre helping youth to achieve their online goals.


One of the unique attributes of social networking sites is that users not only help to edit and contribute to content, but users, through their personal profiles, have also become content. As tools become more developed and accessible, theres been an explosion in more advanced forms of engagement in both popularity and intensity of use. With such increased utility and sophistication of tools available, its no surprise that kids today have emerged as an influential media platform, with a powerful voice.

Impressively, teens are vigorously creating and maintaining their online personal spaces with a significant 60% having created profiles or personal sites and almost 20% updating their sites or profiles at least once a day. Online tweens and teens are voraciously leveraging social networking tools to become copious and sophisticated online publishers. 64% of teens are uploading photos and 42% of teens are creating characters, avatars, such as Meez, or anime to express themselves across their personal profiles.


The report offers advertisers significant data on the types of information young people say theyd like to receive within the social networking environment and further reinforces that this group welcomes the interaction from brands so long as they are incorporating their message appropriately.

More than 90% of tweens and teens say theyd like to hear about one or more types of entertainment products in SN sites and close to half (45%) state theyd like to hear about enthusiast or special interest products, such as technology, sports, and automotive. Four in ten, including more than two-thirds of girls (68%), say theyd like to hear about apparel and personal care products on SN sites and one-quarter want to hear about food and beverage products. 31% also report that they want to hear about more serious offerings such as college information or products that can help them with school.

Overall, 20% of teens report adding branded content to their own websites in the last month - encouraging news for marketers aiming to secure a spot across users personal spaces.

Social networking sites not only offer an amenable forum for brands to share information with their friends, it offers them tremendous opportunity for that message to be shared with the users wide network of like minded peers, said Skey. Communicating with friends holds top priority with the youth audience across the social media space and marketers who can attract them with the right content and services will be rewarded with favorable and valuable peer propagation of their brands message.


The study highlights the significance of the role of parents in their childrens online behaviors and the findings advocate that advertisers seeking to connect with tween and teen audiences should acknowledge parents unique influence over their childrens online behavior. The data reveals the considerable weight mom and dad carry across the online environment.

50% of online tweens and teens reports finding out about new websites (not confined to social networking sites) from their parents vs. 44% that use web searches to find new sites. Offering more insight into the depth of the parent/kid dynamic, the study shows that a significant 66% of tweens and teens (including 60% of teens) have been on the internet together with their parents in the past month, with 71% reporting theyve discussed the internet with their parents as well. 96% of online 9-17 year olds (including 94% of teens) report one or more rules or restrictions over their internet use in the home.

Similar to the views of their offspring, parents too are eager to see advertisers improve the social networking experience and will recognize and reward sponsors who they feel offer their children improvements and enhancements online. Overall, parents generally have a positive view of advertisers who sponsor services clearly designed to help their children become successful adults.

Advertisers who want to win the favor of both parents and 9-17 year olds appear to have a clear set of choices. Sponsorship of educational services and activities and points and reward programs appear to warrant the stamp of approval from both parties and receive the strongest net positive response from all respondents. Sponsoring tools that help kids achieve their online communication and production goals also score well. When asked about advertising placements, parents appear more positive about content that creatively engages their children and asks for their feedback, such as offers and information included in quizzes and polls.


Study conclusions provide marketers with key recommendations to driving a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with the youth market. Social networking environments clearly provide fertile ground for the use of innovative, new media tactics, offering advertisers tremendous opportunity to reach consumers while integrating their brands and messages into their audiences daily lives.

The social media landscape appears to offer nearly limitless opportunity for brands to deepen and broaden their relationship with customers, yet out research shows that todays young media producers will put a limit on messages that dont treat them as partners., states Peter Grunwald, President, Grunwald Associates. For advertisers vying for the right to participate in their world, the white paper uncovered key insights and guidance for making a proper entry.

For marketers to achieve their full social net worth, following the rules set by their consumers and their parents offer the most reward:

Be Sensitive: Marketers must respect social network users feelings of ownership and emotional attachment to their profile pages. Marketers and site owners who maintain a clear separation between their content and kids personal content as well as involve kids in the advertising process, have the best chance to gain acceptance from kids who dont want brands infiltrating their spaces without their approval.

Be Useful: Marketers will be welcomed if they help kids reach their online goals. Through creative site building tools and special content offerings that enhance their spaces, such as games, video, and virtual characters, users will recognize your brands value to their personal pages. Many tweens and teens will gladly place advertising on their sites in exchange for useful content and tools. Parents will support brands that are helping their children with what they feel to be important skill set building and educational activities.

Be Fun: Marketers must appeal to young social network users need to be entertained. Kids were most positive about sponsors associated with free access to digital entertainment such as music, games, and video. Such offerings enhance their experience and their personal spaces and can also be invested with educational value, further garnering the approval of parents.

Be Interested: Marketers should treat young people as their partners. Social networking offers abundant opportunity for brands to capture important information from this audience and brand that are engaging them in the creation of their products and in the process of achieving their advertising goals will be most successful over time.

Be Innovative: Marketers must raise the bar. Kids are seeking new tools and the latest technology to enhance their personal spaces and social interactions online. Brands have significant opportunity to capitalize on tweens and teens creative and social desires by supplying them with the tools that will make them stand out amongst their peers and in return, brands will gain their valuable support.

Skey concluded, Marketers have tremendous opportunity to solidify authentic connections to these modern content drivers if they heed to the demands of young consumers and provide them with the value and the utility theyve come to expect. Send the right message and you can attract the right group of loyal friends and brand advocates.

Study Methodology

This white paper draws heavily on findings from Kids Social Networking a new study from Grunwald Associates underwritten by Microsoft, News Corporation, and Verizon. The study is comprised of three parallel national surveys of children ages 9-17, parents and school district decision-makers. Carefully constructed nationally representative samples of 1,277 teens/children, 1,039 parents and 250 school districts were used.

More detailed results and analysis using demographic and psychographic profiles are available directly from Grunwald Associates. For information on obtaining this analysis along with the underlying data from these surveys, please contact Grunwald Associates (301) 263-9192 or info@grunwald.com

For more information regarding the white paper, please contact:

Jodi Smith
Alloy Media + Marketing
Businesswire.com Publication

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