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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Three studies tracking digital video trends

Catching up on one session from earlier today:

A Showcomotion session featuring three complimentary reports on digital kids introduced not-so-surprising statistics (that is, familiar numbers in their similarity to American figures), but some useful and unique perspectives.

Randal Thomas of QMedia presented an online survey of 850 children 11 – 14, commissioned for Showcomotion, covering online video consumption and its implications for television.

Two-thirds of the kids have TV in their room; this is more common among the middle class than among the very wealthy and very poor. A similar number have their own computer, with 60% having Internet access in their rooms (mostly via home wifi).

A stunning 96% have their own mobile phones; 73% have hand-held game consoles and about 80% have a portable MP3 or MP4 player.

Looking at video consumption online, 95% have watched TV on their computer via Internet, 59% via an MP4 player or ipod, 57% through a games console, and 34% via hand held games console.

As other studies have found, girls are primarily communicators online; boys are gamers and “window shoppers” (researching products they want to buy or receive); however, across all kids, IM and social networks are the most frequently used applications.

Here's is a (slightly fuzzy...dark room) photo of a chart showing most frequently used sites and applications, charted with popularity by gender on the X axis and popularity by age on the Y axis:

And here are two charts reflecting what kinds of online experiences kids choose based on their mood, and then what kinds of games, specifically, they choose based on mood:

Those who watch digital video tend to watch music videos and user-generated-content; fewer watch complete movies or TV shows, but the researchers speculate that will increase as broadband gets better. Asked which device they’d choose as best for watching different genres, most choose TV for almost all genres, except music videos where screening online allows them to watch what they want when they want it.

Will Wiley of Sparkler conducted a similar study among younger children – ages 6-12. This younger group sees the web as a place to have fun – through games, activities, video clips and sites related to favorite TV shows.

Sites to tend to sex segregate, but it’s the “skin” of most sites that determines whether it draws primarily boys or girls. The functionality beneath the surface is often the same – gaming, art projects and activities, stories and clips, etc.

Younger children tend to stick with purpose-made children’s content, where older kids surf kids’ and adult sites. Younger kids are more individual in their choices while older children are more social; 6-9 spend less time online revisiting familiar sites while 9-12 take longer and more varied journeys. Younger kids use “semi-literate” navigation – for example, not typing in full URLs but instead relying on search functions with predictive text or search memory to find favorite sites with just a few letters.

Not surprisingly, the more engagement a site demands, the fewer kids do it. So, the fewest young people make and post videos which demand a lot of investment, and the greatest number play casual games.

6-12s look for the games everywhere; to some extent they see the web as another games platform like their Xbox or Wii. Given this orientation, under 12s aren’t attracted to social networks, saying “there’s not enough to do; where’s the game.”

Hamish McPharlin of research firm decipher set out to test how families would use the ultimate digital home entertainment system. Decipher installed the most up to date equipment – TVs, PVRs, portable video players and such in 15 homes across England.

At first, decipher didn’t tell people what all the equipment did, instead letting them figure it out for themselves. In some cases, it was the children who navigated their way through features, like the boy who claimed the family portable video player as his own. After some time, decipher started a social network for the families in the study, where they could share discoveries and tips, and where the research team could ask questions of all.

Over time, the television remained the center of families’ viewing experiences – they found it sociable and timely. Families added time for VOD and mobile options (total viewing went up 30%), without taking away from previous TV time, though live TV viewing did decline.

Given all these viewing options, the families didn’t become less tolerant of advertiser supported programming and didn’t even mind embedded advertisements; however, as they gained more control over their viewing, they did raise their expectation for “targeting congruency,” ads that reflected digital technologies potential to target commercial messages based on accrued information.

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