Advertising agencies must adapt their communications strategy when using the Internet to reach young people, according to the European NetObserver study of more than 210,000 users.
The Novatris/Harris interactive study examined the web characteristics that distinguish the younger generation (ages 15 to 24) from their elders (25 years and over). The study focussed on time spent online, communication and entertainment activities, the perception of ‘Web 2.0' and views of online advertising.
The findings from the 14th edition of the report, which ran from September to December last year, revealed the younger generation spend more time online than their elders, using the Internet as a communication tool more than anything else.
Other reasons for online activity were for self-expression through blogs, community sites or personal pages and entertainment, such as listening to the radio, playing video games or downloading videos.
Overall, fewer young people felt that advertising helped them find products and services they searched for, in comparison to people aged 25 and over.
Those aged between 15 and 24 were also less interested than their elders by the majority of advertising on the Internet. This was not the case in the UK, where almost 30% of younger people stated they were interested in Internet ads, around 5% more than the over-25s.
Yet, according to the study, young Internet users recognise that advertising helps them to discover new products. Whatever the country, more than 60% used the Internet during the last six months to search for product information before making a purchase, either on or offline.
NetObserver suggested that for advertising agencies to be successful, they could refer to the communication, self-expression or entertainment aspects that constitute the main motivations of young people using the Internet.
The report stated: "Interactive advertising through games, participatory or ‘user generated' advertising through calls for contribution, as well as viral marketing, are strategies to consider in order to capture the attention of this demanding online audience."
The 15th session of the NetObserver study, running from March 19 to June 3, will focus on better understanding the perceptions of advertising on the private spaces of Internet users.
NetObserver is the biggest online study in Europe, with more than 1000 participating sites and nearly 400,000 respondents per year. It covers the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
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