March 11, 2008, 12:00 AM

Multi-tasking children require multi-platform marketing approach

Marketers targeting children who go online should use multiple media platforms to get their message across, says a new study from Grunwald Associates LLC, an independent research firm specializing in new media marketing.

Marketers targeting children who go online should use multiple media platforms to get their message across, says a new study from Grunwald Associates LLC, an independent research firm specializing in new media marketing.

Although TV once was the dominant kids’ media, it no longer receives their undivided attention, according to the study. 64% of children go online while watching television, and 49% report they do it anywhere from three times a week to several times a day. 73% of TV-online multi-tasking kids are engaged in active multi-tasking in which content in one media influences concurrent behavior in another. That’s a 33% increase from 2002.

The study also found that 50% of children visit web sites they see on TV even as they continue to watch, and 45% of teens have sent instant messages or e-mail to others they knew were watching the same TV show. One-third say they have participated in online pools, contests, games or other online activities that television programs directed them to while they were watching.

In addition, online activities are the primary focus of TV-online multi-taskers and increasingly determine what they choose to watch, according to the Grunwald study. 47% of kids say they focus their attention primarily online while multi-tasking between TV and the Internet, while 42% says they focus on TV and online activities equally. Only 11% of kids say TV holds their primary attention while multi-tasking. 17% say they chose what to watch on TV based on what they were doing online, up from 10% in 2002.

“The findings of the study strongly suggest that companies should use multiple platforms-TV, online, social networking, handhelds and other interactive media-to create a synergistic communications effort and a compelling, highly interactive experience for kids,” says Peter Grunwald, president of Grunwald Associates.

One in four of the youngsters surveyed are heavy users of social networking sites and services. 66% of heavy users recruit their peers to visit their favorite sites, and 48% promote new sites and features online to their peers. 37% recommend products to their peers and keep up with the latest brands.

“Active multi-tasking and social networking present a tremendous opportunity to inform, engage, and empower kids more deeply than ever before,” Grunwald says. “At the same time, it’s important for commercial efforts to be credible and respect kids’ intelligence-and the content they produce. Kids are using social networking tools to create personal content and share their opinions with great speed, passion and influence.”

For the “Kids and Social Networking Study,” Grunwald conducted an online survey of 1,277 nine- to17-year-olds and 1,039 parents, as well as telephone interviews with 250 school district leaders who make decisions on Internet policy.

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