Free is Not Enough

December 1, 2014

This post is a copy of a piece I wrote for SBI, and has been made free for the public. You can read the original post here

Members of younger generations who grew up in an era of free, instant access to content on the internet seem to appreciate and connect with internet celebrities more than they do with traditional media's megastars. A survey of 1500 teenagers by Variety magazine found that "U.S. teenagers are more enamored with YouTube [Google; Mountain View, California] stars than they are with the biggest celebrities in film, TV, and music." The fact that respondents ranked online-only entertainers as the top five celebrities suggests that a shift in which celebrities younger generations favor may be occurring. In a separate study by Canvs (New York, New York), internet celebrities featured at the Fox Broadcasting Company's (Los Angeles, California) Teen Choice Awards (www.teenchoiceawards.com) received mentions on Twitter's (San Francisco, California) social network far more often than conventional celebrities did. The top two most-tweeted-about celebrities were artists on Twitter's Vine network, which features short, looping videos, and the third was a YouTube entertainer. The selected sample was limited to Twitter users and therefore skews toward internet-active social-media users who are more likely to relate to internet celebrities; nonetheless, the survey could provide an early sign that younger generations appreciate and relate to a different type of celebrity than older generations do.

Apple's (Cupertino, California) latest publicity stunt highlights the potential devaluation of traditional celebrities. To celebrate the release of its latest mobile operating system, Apple provided all iTunes users with a free copy of U2's newest album, Songs of Innocence, which automatically downloaded onto their Apple devices. Although Apple had anticipated a positive reaction from its customers, many users were furious that Apple was filling up their device storage with "junk," prompting the online posting of guides and tools for removing the music from user's devices. Apparently, many young users prefer to consume entertainment that is different from conventional entertainment that they would normally have to pay for. In a world of highly targeted advertising, exploiting endorsements from niche celebrities to target those celebrities' highly devoted audiences should prove very effective for marketers.

This post is a copy of a piece I wrote for SBI, and has been made free for the public. You can read the original post here