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Given our love affair with the tube, it may not be surprising that 91 percent of Americans ages 13 to 54 say that they had seen a TV commercial at least once a day in the prior month, and that 83 percent say they had seen them several times a day, according to a recent survey. What may surprise you, however, is that the Internet — a much younger marketing tool than TV — has already managed to capture almost as much consumer attention. Fully 85 percent of Americans between the ages of 13 and 54 with online access say they had seen ads on Internet sites, and 79 percent had seen them in e-mails at least once a day in the previous month.

But while the Internet has been touted as an effective medium for reaching today's youngest consumers, it may actually “be better at reaching those who are a bit more mature.� According to Encino, Calif.-based research firm E-Poll's report, “Advertising Overview and Product Placement,� a greater share of respondents ages 35 to 54 say they had encountered ads on Internet sites (86 percent) and in e-mails (80 percent) on a daily basis in the prior month than had the youngest respondents (ages 13 to 17). A majority of this younger group (82 percent and 74 percent, respectively) say that they had come across daily Internet and e-mail advertisements. The study of 1,184 Americans ages 13 to 54 was conducted in June 2002 among a randomly selected sample from E-Poll's representative online panel.

Older consumers seem to be making more of an effort to interact with marketers online than the younger group, according to the report. Eighty-two percent of 35- to 54-year-olds say that in the prior month they had received e-mail messages from companies to which they had voluntarily given their e-mail address, and 55 percent say they really do pay attention to the information they receive. By comparison, just 69 percent of teens say they had received such e-mail messages in the past month, and 41 percent say they pay them any mind at all.

Still, all is not lost for the teen marketer. Using the Internet to reach today's youth can be effective; it just requires a bit more creativity. While 27 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds say they pay attention to banner ads, 37 percent say they notice ads that include Flash animation.

But marketers' best bet to reach these youngsters seems to be in creating more interactive advertisements. For instance, 39 percent of teens (compared with 26 percent of all respondents) say they had seen an advertisement embedded in online games in the prior month, 33 percent (compared with 17 percent) had seen advertisements in chat rooms and 43 percent (compared with 27 percent) had seen advertisements while instant messaging.

Advergames — a new medium that blends downloadable online games with advertising (see “Gaming Gets Serious,� May 2002) — may offer some opportunities for businesses, but there is still a learning curve to combat: 3 in 5 teens (61 percent) say they have never heard of them.

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The general perception may be that the Internet is the best advertising medium for reaching teens, but more 13- to 17-year-olds pay attention to ads on TV (80 percent), in magazines (62 percent) and even in newspapers (41 percent) than they do to those on a Web site (30 percent).


13-17 18-34 35-54 UNDER $25k $25k-$49k $50k+
Television 80% 72% 68% 69% 70% 70%
Magazine 62% 57% 56% 50% 56% 59%
Radio 51% 58% 57% 50% 61% 54%
Newspaper 41% 49% 55% 45% 54% 55%
Freestanding outdoor billboard 55% 53% 50% 46% 49% 55%
Product in a TV show 54% 37% 36% 42% 39% 37%
Ad in the mail 30% 36% 36% 35% 36% 34%
Ad on a Web site 30% 30% 34% 33% 38% 31%
Product in a movie 48% 36% 27% 36% 33% 28%
Ad in an e-mail 24% 27% 32% 32% 33% 28%
Ad on public transportation 31% 27% 27% 26% 26% 25%
Product in a computer game 34% 21% 14% 23% 19% 13%
Source: E-Poll
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