In the traditional Mass Media model, creating an audience target was a lot easier. Painting in broad strokes, we could very easily define the audience in terms like "Men 25-50 years old" without understanding the complexity of how they fit together through their social graph or via the Network Effect.
Digital has definitely flipped this on its head, which means we often have to rethink the traditional demographic modelling in place when we talk about and describe audience groups.
On of the more interesting expressions of this recently is 'Generation C', what Google likes to call the YouTube Generation (in order to drop in a nice product plug).
Generation C are less a particular age demographic like Baby Boomers or Gen X (although 65% are under 35 years old). What defines them more is that they are highly engaged, digitally connected, and make purposeful decisions about the way they choose to live their lives.
As Google explains in their breakdown of Gen C:
"Reaching consumers used to be a pretty simple job, but technology has changed all that. Media consumption has fragmented; mobile devices have brought content into every moment of our lives; and social media has shattered the old distinction between audience and creator. For this new group of consumers, the internet no longer sits behind a computer screen – it’s the way they live their life, and it’s second nature for them to engage with authentic content across all platforms and all screens, whenever and wherever they want.
Reaching these powerful new consumers is hard work, but it’s also a major opportunity for brands that truly understand them."
So why Gen C? Because this group thrives on Connection, Community, Creation and Curation.
Connecting describes how they live in the present tense, connecting across a variety of screens and devices, and throughout the day. This is definitely driven by Smartphone penetration, but also a shift to Multiscreen behaviour and utilising the Internet as a source of entertainment.
Community refers to both traditional close knit family and friends, but also virtual communities of far-flung followers, fans and acquaintances. The majority are connected to more than 100 people, and they often bring together several distinct groups into a single pool of friends.
Creating refers to the act of creating personal content or remixing an existing MEME, and then sharing it as an act of self-expression. This is almost second nature to this group, and covers everything from posting photos to creating video content to upload to YouTube. They are selective, only adding things they think are relevant and have impact.
Finally Curation refers to seeking out 'shareworthy' content. Consuming content is just the start of the process, with over half talking to friends about online videos, and social media used heavily to share interesting things that express their purpose in the content of the moment.
Check out the Google Think Insights page on Gen C to get some deeper statistics and download the full report.