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Nielsen’s new report How Teens Use Media assimilates data on teen media use from a variety of in-house and third-party studies to debunk several myths about TV, Internet, mobile and newspaper consumption. For example, it’s actually adults who spend more time media-multitasking, Web browsing, and watching shows recorded on DVRs and online video.

Looking at data across several recently conducted studies, Nielsen concludes that 33 million U.S. teens (13 to 19 years old) are:

• consuming more television (up 6 percent in the past five years)
• spending less time browsing the Internet than adults (11 hours, 32 minutes, vs. an average of 29 hours, 15 minutes)
• watching more live TV than adults
• consuming less online video than adults
• better at recalling online video ads than TV ads
• regular newspaper readers (more than 25 percent read a daily newspaper)
• less likely (23 percent of teen’s media time) than adults (31 percent of adult’s media time) to consume media concurrently.

Teens love live TV, though their tastes are changing toward cable and away from broadcast. Among broadcast networks, only Fox remains in the list of top viewed networks. Nearly all teen video consumption in Nielsen’s Convergence Panel was live TV (92 percent), leaving DVR (5 percent) and online video (3 percent) in the dust.

As the third screen, mobile video use among teens is taking an interesting turn. As Nielsen points out, “improved access to mobile video through mobile Web has helped this audience to be early adopters of this otherwise cost prohibitive platform.” More than two-thirds (68 percent) of teens access mobile video over the mobile Web versus subscriptions or application-driven services. The 18 percent of teens 13 to 17 who watched mobile video in 1Q 2009 watched nearly twice as much mobile video (6:30 hours per month) as the typical mobile video user (3:37 hours).

The mobile platform is central to communication for teens, who send 2,899 text messages per month (up 566 percent in two years) on average compared with 191 voice calls. By comparison, video messaging was up 26 percent, and use of location-based services grew 16 percent. The mobile platform is a good way for advertisers to reach teens. Nielsen says teen mobile users are about three times as receptive to mobile advertising as the overall mobile subscriber population.

Our take on this Nielsen report and similar reports such as the Ball State “Video Consumer Mapping Study” (discussed at BIA-Kelsey’s “Winning Media Strategies” conference last month and available as an on-demand webcast) is that media and advertising executives really don’t know as much about the relationships between audiences and media as we thought. These studies serve as a platform for an ongoing critical reassessment of this complicated and evolving relationship. With advertisers demanding ever greater media accountability, it is in each company’s best interest to take the time to study these new data but more importantly map these findings into an overall strategy.

This post was contributed by BIA Chief Strategy Officer Rick Ducey.

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