A MODERN UTOPIA AND THE GESTURE GENERATION

by Lauren Nguyen, Media Analyst, iCrossing

ICROSSING POV:

Know your audience: it's one of the principal tenets of creating marketing content. But you also have to adapt to your audience. For instance, different generations navigate and consume content in radically different ways. The "Click Generation" (born between 1975 and 1990) is accustomed to clicking on web search results and web pages to consume content. The "Gesture Generation" (born after 1990) waves and swipes to get what they want. This paper examines the ways in which different generations interact with media and entertainment – and offers five ways for building a connected brand by customizing your ad creative for each age group.

ALTERNATE MEDIA REALITIES
Advertisers who want to adapt to different audiences would do well to get familiar with H.G. Wells, author of literary works such as “War of the Worlds.” In his masterpiece “A Modern Utopia,” Wells created a Utopian man who looks essentially human, but maintains dramatically different mores, habits, knowledge, traditions and ways of interacting with the world. Similarly, people of various generations may seem essentially the same, but they understand and interact with the world – and the media – in profoundly different ways. An older Latino grandfather watches a baseball game on television holding a remote, while sitting next to his 12-year-old grandson who is swiping at an iPad screen, while the boy's mother is in her bedroom room tapping away at Gmail on her laptop. Three completely different generations of people with the same DNA, but fundamentally different ways of navigating the content around them. To connect with these distinctive audiences, advertisers today must adapt to five different generations, ranging from “the Dial Generation” to “the Gesture Generation.”

THE DIAL GENERATION: 1930-45
The Dial Generation was raised on radio. From FDR's fireside chat to “War of the Worlds” on the Mercury Theater Show, they understood that dials and knobs were the primary mode of interacting with media. Whether they were turning the page of a newspaper or flipping the dial on the radio, the Dial Generation actually touched the media delivering their content in almost every instance.

A MODERN UTOPIA AND THE GESTURE GENERATION

JUNE 2012

THE REMOTE GENERATION: 1945-60
The largest in terms of population, the Remote Generation was the first to grow up with television. They were also the first to use remote controls as a means of interacting with media. No generation before them had ever controlled the media they listened to and watched without actually touching it. The Remote Generation understands the world in "point and click" terms; and future TV formats, from MTV to ESPN, were built on that interaction.

THE KEYBOARD GENERATION: 1960-75
The Keyboard Generation grew up with personal computers as a normal part of life. They tapped on calculator keys in high school; they typed entire website addresses (believe it or not) on Compuserve, then Prodigy, AOL and Yahoo!. Most importantly, they were the first to send text messages and use modified keypads with speed and dexterity. The keyboard and its interaction with the computer screen made Microsoft's operating system the equivalent of Rockefeller's oil – an omnipresent, yet invisible part of the entire economy.

THE CLICK GENERATION: 1975-90
The modern website is built on the habits of the Click Generation. They clicked on web search results, ads, songs and more. The way web content is conceptualized, formatted and navigated revolves around this one generation. It made the entire ecosystems around Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay.

THE GESTURE GENERATION: 1990-PRESENT
Apple's genius moved gesture technology from an element in a science fiction movie into the mainstream. As a result, the people born after 1990 instinctively wave, swipe, sway and tilt at screens without a lot of prompting or guidance. It's almost as if the very intent of doing something makes it happen. The Gesture Generation touches their media, rather than pressing it like the Click and Keyboard Generations. The way we search, discover, utilize and communicate information will continue to be transformed by gesture-based interactions with the content and advertising around us.

© ICROSSING, INC., A HEARST COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A MODERN UTOPIA AND THE GESTURE GENERATION

JUNE 2012

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MARKETERS?
The messages any marketer creates need to take into account which generation you aim to reach. For example, a beautifully crafted, gesture-driven iPad ad in the tablet version of “Good Housekeeping” may not get much interaction. This may have nothing to do with the creative concept or the quality of execution, but it may have a lot to do with the fact that your reader was born during the Keyboard Generation. At the other end of the generational media spectrum, click-through rates on a specific ad might be low not because the message doesn't appeal to a 17-year-old potential customer. It might just be that "clicking" on the ad feels so, well, old school for that particular audience.

5 WAYS TO MAKE SURE AD CREATIVE IS RIGHT FOR YOUR AUDIENCE
1. Know your audience! With the increasing use of user experience research and analytics, we can gain powerful insights into how a particular audience interacts with and thinks about the media around them – and how we can give them the best experience possible. 2. Always assume a beginner's mindset. When thinking about how to create an ad, remember that, as professionals, we know a lot more about how ads work than does the average person. An ad that expands when you hover over it to show a set of movie trailers may seem like a great idea, but some older users may not even understand that an ad can be this interactive. In contrast, younger users in the Gesture or Click Generations may find less interactive ads to be unworthy of their attention. 3. Make sure the information you want to convey is clear. It’s important to examine how a specific audience interacts most comfortably with media and design ads that mimic the kinds of interactions they find natural. For example, for a 21-year-old, directly touching different images on a tablet to find out where to buy specific products may be intuitive, but an older woman reading the iPad version of “Sunset” magazine may need a clear "click to buy" link next to the picture. 4. Don't simply try to simulate older types of media as closely as possible. You may think that "swiping" the pages of an e-magazine makes the experience more like the physical experience of turning the pages, but for older generations, that may not be the case. When they look at and interact with a touchscreen, they are probably not viewing it as a physical magazine in electronic form, so emulating the motions of reading a magazine may seem too foreign. 5. Provide your audience with the tools to adapt. All generations are able to adapt to new forms of media if that media is constructed with their attitudes in mind. Providing tools for your audience to adapt enables them to use their current mindset as a jumping-off point. You get the picture. If you want your ad to have amazing brand recall and astonishing conversion rates with a recent college graduate, consider re-visiting a literary classic, "A Modern Utopia." You just might better understand how the 21-year-old standing next to you at the grocery store may look like a younger version of you, but may have something very different in mind when they look at a screen. As new technology enables later generations to interact with media in new and innovative ways, we will succeed if we can explore revolutionary ways to harness future generations' new perspectives, while also finding ways to help older generations interact with these new forms of media in ways that make sense to them. Different generations view and interact with media with completely different mentalities. And it's up to us as marketers to understand our intended audience and design our advertising strategies and creative to suit their interactive style.

STAY CONNECTED
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© ICROSSING, INC., A HEARST COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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