Google studies the online behavior of tweens (10-14 year olds) with message to target them via search advertising

When Google acquired DoubleClick last year, they also took over its search marketing division called Performics. A new study commissioned by Performics focuses on the media behaviors of 10-14 year olds, so-called tweens. The aim of the study is basically to get more online targeted marketing aimed at young people. The senior VP of search operations at Performics–Stuart Larkins–recently wrote an article on the new study that appeared in Chief Marketer. Here are some excerpts.

At DoubleClick Performics, we sought to better understand the online search and purchase behaviors of seven influential demographic segments and commissioned ROI Research to study these habits across 10 different product categories. Results just arrived for one of the most dynamic segments – Tweens, consumers between the ages of 10 and 14…Tweens consume information through many channels, but the Internet leads. When asked how much time they spent with various media types, 83% said they spend at least an hour per day online, and 68% reported at least an hour per day watching TV. Radio, magazines and newspapers came in much lower…

Nearly half of respondents go online many times per day (more than three), and 87% usually spend at least a half hour each time. Looking closer at this time spent online, the survey found:

72% have a profile on at least one social networking site
· 54% have a MySpace profile
· 35% have a Facebook profile…

For search engines, Google was the overwhelming choice among tweens, with 78% indicating they use Google most frequently…

Tweens reported varying levels of involvement across product categories…

To capture the demand generated in complementary channels, marketers should incorporate search ads into other online and offline marketing campaigns. While a nice rule of thumb for any marketing program, this golden rule is especially true when targeting tweens.”

A story on the Performics study in today’s Marketing Daily noted the research came just as kids were getting ready to get their back- to- school gear. As reporter Tameka Kee explained, the study showed that “search marketing in the media mix is crucial to snagging the attention and influence of tweens, as they are increasingly using search to make product recommendations and find pricing info for their parents...Peformics also found that tweens were using search to find specific product information and store locations across multiple product categories. Nearly half of all respondents said that they used search to find product Web sites in the electronics, telecom, apparel and CPG categories, while nearly half said that they used search to find out where to purchase said products online.”

Marketing is a fundamental part of our lives–and will be increasingly so with digital media. But researching the online media behaviors of young people so they can be targeted with interactive digital marketing raises a number of policy issues, as well as parental concerns. We know that Google has announced plans to sell Performics, although it will incorporate some of its activities within its business operations. But Google’s senior executives should play a leadership role in addressing how to ensure the healthy development of young people. Consumer and childrens’ advocates in the U.S. and the EU-among other places–will be watching closely.

Update. The announcement just came from the Google press office that global ad giant Publicis will acquire Performics. Of course, Google and Publicis are also working together and announced an alliance earlier this year.  Here’s an excerpt from today’s email to the press: “Publicis Groupe and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced today that Publicis Groupe has agreed to acquire the Performics search marketing business (Performics) from Google. Chicago-based Performics, one of the leading search marketing services providers, helps to improve the performance of advertisers’ investments and maximize
client campaign effectiveness. Its profit-driving suite of marketing solutions includes Performics’ reporting platform, local platform, advanced market expertise and active account management….Publicis Groupe has been a leader in the advertising industry for decades, and we believe Performics’ growing business will benefit from being part of it,” said Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO, Google. “We look forward to working with Performics as a partner.”

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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