A modern family

My wife and I have been recently staying with my sister and her family while our house gets a total makeover. So I’m immersed again with school-aged kids (my nephews are aged 14, 11 and seven) which has given me a great opportunity to take a pretty close look at their media habits and what gets them talking.

Although I personally don’t quite understand it, I wasn’t surprised to see that they’re all big fans of Psy and his Gangnam Style.

Sexy lady

It’s astonishing to hear them belt out the lyrics in Korean, and more so, see the neighbourhood kids dance the routine in a flash mob on their street. This is highly entertaining and shows the power of social media to bring people together in real life though I’m sure my sister would lose it if anyone close by could translate all those Korean syllables into English. Segments of the song go something like:

A girl whose heart gets hotter when night comes,

A guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down,

A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays,

Now let’s go until the end,

Sexy lady.

Not really appropriate for the 14 year old, too risqué for the 11 year old, and totally unsuitable for their seven-year-old brother! But Gangnam Style is recognized as the most ‘liked’ video in YouTube history and kids all over Australian are still doing Psy’s Gangnam Style with gusto.

Another thing that I’m adjusting to again is TV ads. My sister doesn’t time shift. So enjoying shows like Modern Family or Mel B dancing Gangnam style on X-Factor is punctuated with bouts of emailing, texting and browsing from mobile devices during the ad breaks. In my sister’s house, the ads may be playing but not a lot of watching is going on.

So while I’ve had to sit through more than my fair share of TV ads, the only one that I can recall is the Windows 8 extravaganza. Sure, that one was hard to miss as the global unveiling of Windows 8 got underway in 42 countries around the world. The reimagining of the Windows experience is going to be a bit of a hard sell in our Apple-centric market but, from what I’ve seen of the Crispin, Porter + Bogusky ad, it certainly hits all the right notes with music at its heart.

Monster TV ads

And it begs the question whether this is the only tactic remaining for marketers to cut through and win consumers’ attention in the TV ad space. You need a monster budget to create a monster ad. Anything else will be time shifted or totally ignored. No monster budget, no TV ad. More dollars will be shifted into the online space. Big online growth areas include search and mobile advertising.

After all, media dollars do follow consumer eyeballs. Having broken through the $3 billion barrier for the first time this year, spending on online advertising is set to outstrip television spending next year, and then print spending in 2014.

Building apps for fun

While my 11-year-old nephew is happy poring over YouTube and messaging his friends with Kik, his elder brother has moved onto another plane. Just like the 14-year-old creator of the physics game Bubble Ball – the game that knocked Angry Birds out of its top spot on the iTunes App Store’s list of most popular free apps – he and his mates a have taught themselves to build iPhone apps for fun.

Young kids everywhere are taking the leap from simply enjoying games to actually learning to create them. Indeed, over in the US, having created a number of successful apps of his own, 12-year-old wonder kid, Thomas Suarez, is using his skills to help other kids become developers.

As more and more kids have access to tools to allow them to create their own entertainment, brands will need to get smarter in order to optimise the opportunities they have to engage them. One thing’s for sure: you will have fewer opportunities to reach consumers with traditional advertising.


Simon van Wyk
BY Simon van Wyk ON 12 November 2012
Founder, HotHouse Interactive. Tweet him @Hot_House