New research studying how teens use media and view advertising has concluded that some current methods are not working for this generation, reports Adweek.  In two separate studies, one conducted by GTR Consulting and the other by Fuse and the University of Massachusetts, teens have shown aversion to some methods of internet advertising while accepting television as the best medium for ads.

GTR Consulting found that social networks have overtaken other activities as the most popular way teens spend their time online.  Among those surveyed, 66 percent said they use social network sites compared to 59 percent for user-generated videos, 51 percent for instant messaging and 50 percent for online games.  While the findings should put social media networks tops on marketers’ list for where to reach teens, both studies found plenty of potential pitfalls based on how ads are perceived on these sites.

The Fuse study found teens have a special aversion to being advertised through social media.  When asked about specific types of ads targeting them through online social networks versus television, respondents resoundingly chose the latter for products such as apparel (10 percent online vs. 71 percent TV), electronics (14 percent vs. 69 percent) and food (11 percent vs. 78 percent).  In-fact Fuse found teens favor television ads over other methods overall, with 75 percent pinpointing TV as their preferred medium for ads.  In contrast, teens see most online ads as intrusive and disruptive.  As both studies found, that perception is what makes teens especially averse to them in their social network sites.  In talking to Adweek, principals of both research firms pinpoint that the problem may be more cause than effect for advertisers to consider .  Gary Rudman, president of GTR Consulting, points to clumsy ad methods that fail to understand how teens want to be approached on social sites.  Fuse partner Bill Carter takes it further, saying that advertisers that treat these sites as just another billboard are the problem.  He believes they need to embrace the same mechanisms making these sites invaluable to teens, using them to engage, inform and entertain just as the other participants do on the sites.  As with viral, empowerment and discovery are also powerful ways to affect teens, giving them tools and content that they ll eagerly pass along within these networks.  Carter says that teens take the same critical eye towards in-game ads as they do online ads, deriding anything that intrudes rather than enhances their experience.

The GTR study uncovered that teens favorite medium for ads, television, is still where they spend most of their free time.  The study found that teens spend an average 2.1 hours a day boob-tubing it while surfing the net for fun for 2 hours a day.  The same study also found that, when asked which electronic devices they own, video game consoles tied TV sets for second place among teens at 79 percent behind mobile phone ownership at 85 percent.  Adweek also reported comments by the research firms on teens perception of Twitter, which they mostly view as a place for adults to broadcast opinions while they prefer the more intimate social sites such as Facebook and MySpace, as well as the effect the economic recession could have on this generation s long-term view.

Read more at Adweek {link no longer active}.