Tempest about teens using Twitter stirred by twits

July 13, 2009 by Dave Haynes

One of the reasons I decided to strike out on my own and focus on writing for this industry was to perhaps help influence the way companies are presenting themselves to the industry and media and also calm down some of the crazy hype out there.

I just, for example, read something about a software company making a “quantum leap” in something or other. Adrian’s crew flagged that one.

I read press releases all the time that are suspect, and increasingly, in this frenzied effort to feed the 24-hour news beast, stuff that then gets written out of that PR without much thought as to what’s being reported.

This mild rant is actually not about the DS/DOOH industry, but it could be just as easily. All day, I have seen reports on my RSS newsreader from mainstream news and technology blogs about the report from Morgan Stanley that says teens aren’t using Twitter. Hmmm, I thought, I was just saying this morning I was not sure about Twitter’s long-term legs (despite the brand identity), and this should be cause for concern.

So I finally had time to read some of the coverage, only to discover this is not a sweeping report, these are the musings of one 15-year-old kid working this summer at Morgan Stanley.

Reports Bloomberg:

Teenagers spend money on game consoles, movies and music concerts while ignoring newspapers, a Morgan Stanley report said, citing Matthew Robson. Robson should know: He is a 15-year-old intern at the securities firm.

The schoolboy was asked by the bank’s European media analysts to report on what he and his peers look for in the information-entertainment industries. What they got was one of the “clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen,” the analysts said.

“Teenagers are consuming more media, but in entirely different ways and are almost certainly not prepared to pay for it,” Morgan Stanley analysts Edward Hill-Wood, Patrick Wellington and Julien Rossi said in a note, citing Robson.

Hill-Wood told the Financial Times that the note resulted in five or six times more feedback than an average report by the group and elicited e-mails and phone calls from fund managers and chief executive officers. Morgan Stanley spokesman Sebastian Howell confirmed Hill-Wood’s comments via phone today, while noting that Robson cannot be contacted for comment.

Among Robson’s insights: Teenagers don’t twitter; they resent intrusive advertising on billboards, television and the Internet and they are willing to chase content and music across platforms and devices such as mobile phones and Apple Inc.’s IPod. They do not listen to the radio, preferring music Websites that stream music for free and allow them to choose their songs. They are “very reluctant” to pay for music and 80 percent download it illegally. Most have never bought a CD, he says. 

OK, so teenagers get a free pass to call all adults morons, as a mainstream and online frenzy gets whipped up about one kid’s point of view (and maybe those of a few of his buds) representing those of millions of others. When you read how fund managers and CEOs are making calls and writing notes about this, it becomes very clear how the financial markets went into a tailspin and scary to to think there is still no moron shortage on Wall Street and in London’s business district.

Nielsen just did a comprehensive report on How Teens Use Media. The crazy thing about that report is they did actual RESEARCH.   

I write this because I can assure you this industry is not immune to regurgitating PR or news stories without first stopping to think, “Hmmmm … that seems odd.”

By the way, young college-aged women think Sixteen:Nine is the only credible source of information on the fast-emerging digital signage industry. My daughter said so, in return for borrowing the beater car tonight.

And what, by the way, is a 15-year-old kid doing working at Morgan Stanley for the summer when he could be in front of a Circle K all summer spitting sunflower seeds and getting in people’s way?

Leave a comment