The On-Line Generation

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The On-Line Generation

It’s no secret that the Millennials — the 70 million Americans born since 1982 — are a powerful force in the economy. These young consumers have more disposable income than any previous generation in history. One of every three high-school seniors carries a credit card, and today’s teenagers and college students enjoy a combined spending power of $375 billion, according to data from Alloy Media and Marketing, as reported in BusinessWeek.

What has been a mystery until now has been how to reach them with advertising messages that won’t be ignored like an MP3 player that isn’t an iPod. However, a small but growing number of savvy marketers are realizing the enormous potential of on-line social networks to achieve this goal.

As the first generation to grow up with iTunes, blogs, e-mail, and instant messaging, Millennials are more comfortable on-line than their parents or older siblings. Millions of high school and college-aged Americans are staying connected to each other by using on-line social networks. These networks are shaping new forms of social behavior in the first generation ever to begin using them as children. These users are distinct from adults, who view the Web as a tool to supplement their daily activities. Adults make purchases, check the news or weather, or send e-mails.

But many of the Millennials actually live on-line part of the time. Nearly 90 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds use the Internet now, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Teens between the ages of 15 and 18 spend six and a half hours a day either on the Net, playing video games, or watching TV, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

As technologies converge, these technologies will all become one seamless on-line stream of content. At present, those youths are using on-line social networks nearly 90 minutes each day, which represents the largest growth in Internet usage, up 300 percent in the last five years.

The three top sites, ranked by their number of users, according to BusinessWeek, are:

  • MySpace.com, with 40 million users.
  • Xanga.com, with 6.4 million users.
  • Facebook.com,with 4.2 million users.

MySpace.com was the 15th most-visited Web site last October according to Nielsen//NetRatings, when it accounted for 10 percent of all the Internet ads viewed on-line during that month. It has surpassed eBay, Google and AOL in number of page views. At MySpace, members can join groups that revolve around music, sports, religion, or other mutual interests...

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