Magid Turns Eyes to MillennialsTracking Attitude Shifts In Younger Generation 10/26/2007 08:00:00 PM Eastern
For Jack MacKenzie, Frank N. Magid Associates’ success in providing research and consulting services to the media industry is in some ways a tale of two generations.
In the 1970s, researchers at the firm began noticing an important shift in consumer attitudes towards local news. “At the time, it wasn’t seen so much as a generational shift, but we now know that the boomers had a larger appetite for local news and wanted to see the news presented and told in new ways,” said MacKenzie, who wears many hats at the firm as executive vice president, co-head of the entertainment division and president of the Magid Millennial Strategy Program.
|Online Video Use|
|Frequency of online video usage (12 to 64 year olds):|
|SOURCE: Frank N. Magid Associates, Magid Media Futures, 2007.|
|Several times a week||22%|
|Once a week||16%|
|Once a month or more||12%|
|Less than once a month||19%|
Magid’s success in understanding those changes helped stations dramatically boost their ratings and profits, MacKenzie noted, cementing Magid’s position in the 1980s as a powerhouse in the broadcast TV business.
Today, MacKenzie sees another even larger seismic shift occurring in consumer attitudes and the media business, that will have far reaching effects for Magid and its clients, with the arrival of the so-called millennial generation.
While doing research for ABC Family Channel four years ago, researchers at Magid uncovered data that the millennial generation, born between 1977 and 1996, were behaving quite differently from previous generations.
At first Magid researchers worried that they had made a mistake in designing the survey. But as they dug into the data, they realized they’d uncovered a very different youth culture, said ABC Family senior vice president of marketing John Rood.
Unlike the boomers and subsequent generations, the millennials were much closer to their families and embraced more traditional values. In their media usage, they were adept multitaskers and used broadband video, digital video recorders, video on demand and MP3 players to personalize and customize their content so it was on demand and relevant to their daily lives. As a generation, they were also less individualistic and tended to make more decisions collectively, a fact that helps explain the popularity of social network sites.
Realizing the importance of those finding, Magid formalized its research on the millennial group into the Millennial Strategy Program.
“The Millennial work was groundbreaking in terms of the directions that the companies need to take and how they go about building their business,” said Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television, who has been using the program to revamp Sony’s strategies.
“Our research into the millennials and their new attitudes is another example of how this company dictates the conversation about the direction of media,” MacKenzie said. “Four years ago, no one knew who the millennials were. Now you see so-called 'millennial’ conferences and media companies very blatantly addressing that demo.”
The Millennial Strategy Program is only one example of the company’s longstanding efforts to track the impact of changing technologies and consumer usage of media.
In 1997, Maryann Baldwin set up its Magid Media Futures (MMF) program, which has now accumulated a decade of data on changing consumer use of media, information, news and entertainment.
Baldwin, who is now vice president of MMF, said that “the younger generation makes content choices in ways that the older generation could never possibly understand.”
|Men Vs. Women|
|Young men have the highest online video usage, but females are closing the gap.|
|SOURCE: Frank N. Magid Associates, Magid Media Futures, 2007.|
By pooling the company’s expertise and data from such efforts as MMF and the Millennial Strategy Program, “we bring an aggregation of experience and exposure to a wide variety of media that can give the client a very holistic perspective,” she said.
That perspective also includes years of research into on-demand programming and HDTV, added entertainment division vice president Jill Rosengard.
“In 1999, we did our first on-demand research with TiVo and our first HDTV work,” she said.
Since then the company has worked closely with a number of operators on VOD and has done at least four studies covering on-demand advertising with such clients as Starcom USA, Comcast, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications.
“The next step for cable is HDTV VOD,” Rosengard said. “We are already conducting studies that show just how hungry consumers are for HD content on demand.”
Mike Vorhaus, a senior vice president and managing director, said the company is also doing large surveys of broadband video usage as part of the Magid Media Futures initiative.
In 2007, that research found that 52% of people 12 to 64 years old viewed online video at least once a week, up from 44% in 2006, and 14% are viewing daily, up from only 9% a year earlier.
Young men have the highest usage, but females are closing the gap and usage rates are the same for 12- to 17-year-old males and females, with 54% viewing online video at least once a week.
While user-generated content is very important in this changing landscape, Vorhaus said Magid’s research also highlights the popularity of professionally produced content, which is potentially good news for media companies worried about being rendered less relevant by the Internet.
Vorhaus pointed out that news is the most popular online video content and that four of the five top online types of content (news, movie previews, weather and music videos) are predominately professionally produced by media and entertainment companies. Among the top five, the second most popular category, jokes and bloopers, is the only one that is mostly made up of user-generated content.
“A lot of professional content has moved online in the last 6 to 12 months,” Vorhaus said. “NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS, etc. They all have very strong brands and have a strong future online. If this were the ninth inning of a baseball game, last year we would have been in the preseason [in terms of television companies embracing online video] This year we’ve made huge progress and are somewhere in the second inning.”
Such practical insights highlight a key feature of all of Magid’s research, Vorhaus and others note.
Martin Eichholz, vice president of research said, “We don’t want to just dump 100 slides on your lap and then leave. We want to make certain all this information is filtered down through the organization and applied.”
As a result, Magid has always hired many people from within the industry so it could combine its research expertise with operational experience.
President of television Steve Ridge said, for example, that he was a client of Magid, managing TV stations before joining the company. “As a client, I learned the value of having rigorous research and using it to build the business,” he explained.
Or, as CEO Brent Magid put it: “Very early on, my father adopted something my grandfather always said: 'Ideas are only as good as the use to which they are put.’ Unlike other companies, we’ve always been very focused at working at where the money gets made, down in the operations.”