Eyeballs And Dollars
The 18 to 34 year old demographic is an elusive market with more than a few anti-capitalism tricks up its sleeve. Born and cultured with an ability to tune out all but the most interesting and engaging forms of advertising, the Generation Y and Gen-X crowds are simultaneously the most desirable and most difficult viewers to reach.
Early adopters of technology, these viewers are using time-shift devices such as Tivo and ReplayTV to skip past unwanted programming (read: commercials), while realizing, perhaps for the first time, how much of the network offerings are actually pure advertising. To offset this trend, networks are exploring embedded forms of advertising such as product placements. Think back to the last time you saw your favorite protagonist grab a refreshing beverage. Was it a Pepsi or a generic cola product? Five years ago, it was the latter. Now, to combat the time shifting phenomena, we are beginning to see advertisers pay large sums of money for key product placements. This implied endorsement slips past the radar of the average consumer, embedding the brand somewhere in the depths of the consumer's subconscious mind.
All the creative advertising in the world can't get around another striking fact about these viewers: they're watching less of the network's programming. With the advent of the Internet, the rising popularity of video games, as well as quality program offerings on cable, viewers in the 18 to 34 bracket are watching less and less network TV. The networks have gone out of their way (even manipulating data collection techniques to suit their intended results) to shield this fact from advertisers, but the word is getting out.
New Enemies For A New Advertising Paradigm
Where are viewers turning? Increasingly, to the Internet. For music, for porn, and for games. What type of news reporting have we seen to follow this trend? A demonization of these three new areas of focus, to the extent of labeling their partakers as criminals and miscreants.
Download music off of the Internet? Criminal! Surf for some porn? Anti-woman and/or anti-religion! Play a video game? Violent and amoral! These concepts are touted time and time again in the media. That is, if you flip past the violence, gore, and sexuality of network TV prime time to see the news segments. Don't let that trip you up, though. Network TV walks the path of righteousness.
Are we recognizing a trend, and perhaps a motivation? By falling into the stereotypes the media loves to exploit, by putting a higher value on short term wealth than long term viability, and by failing to combat this irresponsible reporting, we are tumbling down a slippery slope of our own design. Batten down the hatches, ladies and gentlemen. We're about to have the war brought to our doorstep. Are you ready, soldier?