The IM Gap & Contextual Relevancy

    December 8, 2006

As a 28 year-old writing professional, instant messaging is a foregone conclusion to the scope of my work. Every moment of my working day is spent logged in to the IM client that we employ to communicate with each other here in the office, as well as to get quick quotes and information from sources.

So why do I use instant messaging to talk to colleagues and contacts? Well… because it’s instant.

Consequently, when I saw an AOL poll touting that instant messaging is more popular among the teen and young adult ranks of Internet users, I was hardly surprised. In fact, our own Jason Lee Miller touted similar findings almost a year ago resulting from a similar study.

Think about it; the color of the sky, the presence and impact of gravity, Elton John’s sexual orientation… some things you just know without having to be told, right?

I thought so, until I ran across a blog post Toni Carr, SEO enthusiast and mother, bemoaning the ever-growing generational messaging gap:

They have done it to me again, just when I thought I was with it technologically speaking, I am now a dinosaur. I knew all along that the younger generation was more involved in IMing than email, by my kids activities on their computers. But now email is almost extinct from the younger generation.

So perhaps the perceived gap isn’t as obvious to those on the other side of it as I had originally suspected.

Nevertheless, this is just another wrinkle in the scheme of the habitual behavior that contextual marketers are going to have to pay close attention to in developing advertising campaigns geared toward a multi-generational online audience.

Let’s take a fictional company, Ithilien Productions, and examine a scenario in which information pulled from these studies can be framed with some amount of relevancy.

As an up and coming independent film studio, Ithilien has worked hard to secure the best and brightest of rising thespian talent, and as a result has produced two films this year that were critically acclaimed at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. Subsequently, major motion picture distribution looms on the horizon.

Girls Night Out is a cautionary tale of teen female angst and depression laden with satirical views of body image, emotional instability, and parental misguidance. The second release, The Crying Tree, documents the life of two strangers who find themselves inexorably connected by a series of events that take place in a small Midwestern town.

So, understanding the importance of relevancy, Ithilien chooses to place ads for Girls Night Out with AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and MSN Messenger, while running spots for The Crying Tree in pages associated with Yahoo! Mail and MSN Hotmail, marketing the youthful movie to the teens, and the mature film to the older adult crowd.

Welcome to the new world of contextual advertising.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.