Now that everyone (and their mom) is on Facebook, where are the young adults hanging out?

I was playing around with the fancy new chat feature in Facebook a couple nights ago, and started talking to my college buddy from a few years back. Soon I was chatting with my boyfriend’s mom, and eventually started talking to my 11 year-old cousin. I started to realize just how clear it’s become that Facebook is no longer just for college kids. In fact, social networking is beginning to spread to the population regardless of age. As detailed in the recent Compete webinar on Segment-Driven Marketing, 92% of marketing professionals say their company uses segmentation to manage their online advertising and /or search marketing. Judging by the amount of ads for hip, cool prepaid phones, trendy clothing and "hot shoes," I’d say companies see Facebook and other social networking sites as the perfect place to target that "young adult" audience. With people of every demographic beginning to use these sites, is this really a smart way to spend their ad budgets?

I made use of Compete’s Behavior Match product to find out. I know from discussions with our clients that wireless carriers specifically are very interested in the young adult segment, so I thought I’d do some analysis on the young adults we’ve seen shopping carrier sites. I created a segment of "Young Adult Wireless Prospects", defined as anyone from 18-34 who were seen visiting a wireless carrier site (but not seen as acting like a customer of that site), and looked at which sites they over-index on as compared to the internet population as a whole.

*Read as: Young Adult Wireless Prospects are 1.5x more likely to visit Facebook than the average internet user.

While Young Adult Wireless Prospects do over-index on Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube it is not by a staggering amount, as on average Young Adult Wireless Prospects only visit the big social networking sites 1.4 times as often as the general internet population. One can’t deny that getting your message and name out to the millions of people visiting these sites is an impressive thing (though expensive), but in terms of segment-based marketing strategies, I think the wireless companies may be missing the mark.

There is another category of sites Young Adult Wireless Prospects over-index on; Computer and Website Personalization sites appear high and often on the Behavior Match indexing report. Specifically, Young Adult Wireless Prospects over-index on sites designed to help you make your MySpace page or Facebook profile "cooler."

Personalization sites for the social networking sites generally have a higher concentration of the Young Adult Wireless Prospect crowd than the social networking sites themselves (and are also all ad-supported). But would these consumers be susceptible to marketing messages? Are they engaged on these sites?

This chart is looking at the number of visits each domain sees on a monthly basis. Visits are a good way to measure if a site is seeing enough repeat visitors to make advertising on the site effective. We can see that Freeweblayouts.net and Freepagegraphics.com see a lot of repeat visitors, with around 4 million and 3 million visits a month, respectively. Imikimi.com isn’t far behind with about 1.5 million visits and the rest are tight around the 500,000 mark. It appears as though these sites are more than just a one-stop shop for their users.

So what does all this mean? Major websites will always be a good place to advertise, but when it comes to behaviorally segmenting Young Adult Wireless Prospects, there could be a more efficient way to go about it. Within the category of Computer and Website Personalization sites alone, there are a few sites that receive over a million users a month and on which Young Adult Wireless Prospects are 3.5X more likely to visit than the internet population in general. Messaging on these sites could be a perfect way to efficiently target a key segment in the wireless industry, while still getting the message out to millions of people.

About BeckyBitzenhofer:
Becky Bitzenhofer is a Senior Associate at Compete. Becky spends her time at Compete managing a data team and delivering competitive analysis to wireless clients. Before Becky joined the Compete team she was a student at the University of Vermont. Becky hopes to continue to use and improve her analysis skills, and develop new and better ways use data to improve website performance. You can find and follow Becky on Twitter under the name Beckybitz.

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