On-Demand Generation Will Pay to Play

White Paper: Though Portrayed as Freeloaders, They Will Shell Out for Right Content

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- In theory, younger consumers -- the ones raised on BitTorrent and YouTube -- are philosophically and emphatically against paying for content.

In reality, that's wrong. Even this generation understands there's a price to pay, be it advertising or iTunes-like micro-payments, for highly desirable content. But brands and media companies must understand the rules of engagement.

This group isn't what you think.
An Ad Age Insights white paper released this week culls research, studies, statistics and interviews to bust common perceptions about the On-Demand Generation to explore the group's media habits, preferences and expectations of media, as well as the strategies ruling young-adult-focused media companies and what it all means for the future.

It's a group that spent seven hours and 38 minutes a day with media -- up by more than an hour from 2004 and the first time in a decade that time spent with media increased. To them, the value of content online can be just as worth a price tag as cable or network TV shows and they're also -- surprisingly -- not averse to advertising. But it better be good advertising, and it better not take more than a nanosecond to load.

And while ubiquitous media can seem overwhelming to those who remember having to get off the couch to change the channel, it's not so to this generation -- instead, it's the way they've grown up.

Their expectations, it turns out, are a key differentiator in understanding their media consumption and preferences. And these tweens, teens and young adults do have a very different media mindset driving their preferences and choices.

But when the young natives have to deal with the olds, it creates the potential for a digital disconnect. Ad Age's report aims to bridge that divide. It looks at what this generation's expectations are and offers suggestions in dealing with both the expectation and the kids. A sample of some findings:

INSTANT GRATIFICATION. This is a generation used to getting what it wants. They text instead of talking, they download songs instead of going to the store to buy CDs, they DVR live TV then fast-forward through commercials and breaks, and they look up any information any time on the internet.

FREE IS GOOD, BUT WE'LL PAY IF NECESSARY. They are used to getting content for free, à la You Tube and Hulu, but they also understand that there can be a price to pay for highly desirable content -- that price being watching advertising, or even paying a small fee on a case-by-case basis (à la iTunes).

BEST QUALITY, NO COMPROMISES. Digital natives have grown up during a tech-design evolution. Everything is small and shiny and beautiful. They've also grown up with high-definition TV, digital sound and touch-screen computers, ATMs and music players. That all means the standard of technology and design that they expect from their digital content is high.

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