Where Did the Guys Go?

After a report that showed men aged 18 to 34 had deserted network television, interactive marketers prayed that they’d show up online instead. Two new studies lend support to that idea.

Earlier this week, comScore Media Metrix released a more general study of men in the elusive age group. The study from the Reston, Va.-based audience measurement company found that the nearly 27 million Internet-using U.S. males aged 18 to 34 spent an average of 32 hours per person online in September, fully 17 percent more than the 27 hours the average Internet user spent online during that month. They also whipped through more pages, generating an average of 3,370 page views a month, compared to the 2,670 consumed by the average Internet user.

The report adds fuel to the theory that the recently reported double-digit decline in broadcast television viewing by males in this age group is the result of increased Internet use.

“We actually expected this, said comScore president Peter Daboll. “People who have grown up with the Internet, we knew were spending less time watching TV.”

The division was most clear, Daboll said, between heavy and light television viewers. Confirmed couch potatoes, those who watched an average of five hours a day of TV, used the Internet only lightly. Those watching less TV were chair potatoes, logging five times the number of page views as their couch-surfing brethren.

There’s more research to be done, according to Daboll, who said comScore will approach television networks to partner on a more thorough analysis. The OPA also plans to release a major study of the media habits of 18- to 34-year-old males. There are important questions still be to be answered. For example, comScore believes there’s a growing trend of simultaneous media use, people with one hand on the mouse and the other on the remote. Even more intriguing is the possibility of identifying a small group of young males that can only be reached online.

The current report, Daboll said, validates the theory of a younger group of consumers, raised on the Internet, who view it as a primary medium. And that, he said, “is a positive story for the Internet advertising community.”

The Online Publishers Association (OPA) also stepped up this week to claim the so-called “missing men.” It released the results of a media consumption study of men aged 18 to 34 who are frequent visitors to news, information and entertainment Web sites. In the study, conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, these men spent an average of 21 hours per week online, compared to only 15.7 hours watching television. The study doesn’t give a complete picture of the habits of men in that age group, however, because it looked only at self-reported frequent visitors to Web sites.

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