Tuesday, July 21, 2009

15-Year-Old Writes a Breakthrough Technology Paper...

Last week, Matthew Robson, a 15-year-old intern at Morgan Stanley, was given the task of writing a report on his teenage friends' likes and dislikes when it came to technology. Then a funny thing happened... he told it like it is, and the world immediately paid attention.

Robson's report titled "How Teenagers Consume Media" is quickly becoming an internet classic. Morgan Stanley execs perceived the report as "one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen – so we published it", said Edward Hill-Wood, executive director of Morgan Stanley's European media team. "We've had dozens and dozens of fund managers, and several CEOs, e-mailing and calling all day."

Read the brief four-page report for yourself. To my eyes, this is one of those cases where what seems like obvious common sense to most of us suddenly gets expressed... and we feel like it's about time.

Among the highlights:

  • On Radio: "Most teenagers nowadays are not regular listeners to radio. They may occasionally tune in, but they do not try to listen to a program specifically. The main reason teenagers listen to the radio is for music, but now with online sites streaming music for free they do not bother, as services such as last.fm do this advert free, and users can choose the songs they want instead of listening to what the radio presenter/DJ chooses."

  • On Newspapers: "No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarised on the internet or on TV."

  • On Twitter: "Teenagers do not use twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they realise that they are not going to update it... In addition, they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their 'tweets' are pointless."

  • On Online Advertising: "Most teenagers enjoy and support viral marketing, as often it creates humorous and interesting content. Teenagers see adverts on websites (pop ups, banner ads) as extremely annoying and pointless, as they have never paid any attention to them and they are portrayed in such a negative light that no one follows them."

  • On Music: Teenagers "are very reluctant to pay for it (most never having bought a CD) and a large majority (8/10) downloading it illegally from file sharing sites... A number of people use the music service iTunes (usually in conjunction with iPods) to acquire their music (legally) but again this is unpopular with many teenagers because of the 'high price' (79p per song)."

Don't these observations mesh with your sense of reality? It's refreshing to hear it told like it is, without marketing ideologues informing us that their overly wishful ideas are what's actually happening.


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