More, more, more

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Limited.

That, in a word, sums up the range of options for Canadian advertisers when it comes to youth-targeted media.

It’s a little surprising, when you think about it. The sheer volume of youth marketing activity in North America has grown significantly in recent years, as advertisers have come to realize just how much spending power the offspring of the baby boomers possess.

One result is that advertisers south of the border now have their pick of media vehicles aimed at specific segments of the youth audience. But youth marketing experts say Canada isn’t seeing a similar trend.

Why don’t Canadian advertisers enjoy the same kind of selection? Kaan Yigit, a partner with Toronto-based Solutions Research Group, which produces a syndicated study on youth trends, blames it on the economics of a smaller market.

In television, he says, YTV and MuchMusic (along with Teletoon, to a somewhat lesser extent) have the market pretty well wrapped up. Any new youth programming contender – like the recently licensed teen channel Connect (one of 21 new ‘Category 1′ digital specialty stations slated to launch by next fall) – will have a tough fight for survival on its hands. ‘You just can’t make a living competing with those guys,’ Yigit says.

Print, in particular, is an area where Yigit had expected to see a lot more Canadian action. Certainly in the U.S. there has been a proliferation of youth magazines in recent years – both new titles and spin-offs of existing brands, such as Cosmopolitan and People.

So far, however, Canada hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of boom. Market size, again, has a lot to do with this – as does spillage across the border of American titles.

‘There’s no way you’re going to put together a Canadian magazine that’s going to effectively compete with Teen People,’ Yigit says.

Even the most successful youth-targeted magazines in Canada are still small, niche products – and that’s a shame, Yigit argues, because magazines are a significant medium for youth market.

So what’s an advertiser to do?

Stop complaining, for a start, suggests Darryl Nicholson, media director with Toronto-based Ammirati Puris.

Clients and buyers always bemoan the shortage of youth media options, he says – but when a new magazine or another new vehicle does appear, ‘everyone’s reluctant to support it.’

So what are the options for an advertiser going after the youth market?

If Your Target is 6-12…

You’ve definitely got a choice here, Yigit says: YTV or…well, YTV.

The kid channel is definitely the first choice for most advertisers interested in reaching the 6-12 market, Nicholson affirms. ‘They have deep pockets, they’re organized, they have a strong Web site and they work hard.’ (For those who crave more detail, we’ve got profiles of YTV and some other major youth media players on the following pages.)

The remaining budget might go to print or the Web, but the choices for this age group are not numerous.

YTV’s spin-off magazine Whoa! is a strong property, Nicholson says. Kidsworld, Kids Tribute and The Magazine Not for Adults are also options.

As for the Web…well, Stacey McIntyre, media manager and Internet specialist for Toronto-based OMD Canada, says she’s spent a lot of time surfing for suitable Canadian sites, and come up dismayingly empty-handed.

The online destinations most popular with Canadian kids tend to be U.S.-based sites. Unfortunately, McIntyre says, these don’t present much opportunity for Canadian advertisers, beyond purchasing banners.

When it comes to domestic sites, the best bet is probably YTV.com. The site attracts 65,000 unique visitors each week, generating an average of two million page impressions.

Nicholson, meanwhile, says it’s worth considering other media, such as out-of-home. ‘There are all these kids sitting in the backseats of minivans,’ he says. ‘And they all want stuff to look at.’

If Your Target is 13-17…

Television, again, is the major avenue for reaching this age group, with MuchMusic (see page 28) joining YTV on the list of preferred options for advertisers.

Canadian teens rank magazine-reading among their favourite activities, according to research conducted by The Solutions Group. But their preference runs to high-profile U.S. publications such as Maxim, Teen People and Seventeen.

The big problem with Canadian teen magazines is a lack of stability and consistency, Nicholson says. Titles appear and disappear with alarming frequency – and that makes advertisers reluctant to invest media dollars.

A rare exception is Winnipeg-based What (see page 27), a pop culture magazine distributed in high schools across the country. Founded way back in 1987, ‘it’s a very powerful franchise with a proven history,’ Nicholson says. (Other notable titles for this target audience include Teen Tribute and sister publications Fuel and Verve.)

On the Web front, muchmusic.com does well with teen surfers. The site attracts seven million page views a month. As Nicholson points out, a lot of youngsters today are ‘head-bobbers,’ shifting their attention back and forth between the TV and the computer. So the opportunity presented by a MuchMusic or a YTV to combine television and Web efforts is understandably attractive to advertisers.

Radio is another possibility with the teen market, Nicholson adds. The mobility of the medium can be a definite advantage when going after youth on the move. The problem, again, is limited choice. While Toronto has two teen-oriented stations – KISS 92 and Energy 107.9 – many of the country’s other major urban centres aren’t well served. And that makes things difficult for national advertisers that want strong reach in major markets across the country.

If Your Target is 18-24…

For the campus audience, MuchMusic remains the first and best TV buy. In print, meanwhile, there’s the campus press, which includes magazines such as Campus.ca, Agent and Student Body.

Nicholson, for his part, is an advocate of non-traditional media, such as the posters in university washrooms and student centres provided by companies like Toronto-based NewAd Media.

Canadian-based sites targeting the campus crowd are somewhat more numerous than those aimed at kids and teens – although not as much as media buyers might like. OMD’s Stacey McIntyre says her agency developed an online promotion for client globeandmail.com (which recently spun off a campus site of its own), and was underwhelmed by the range of advertising options available. Notable Canadian sites for this audience include u-swap.com and the student portal campusaccess.com.

Page Turners

Here’s a handy guide to the Canadian youth publications mentioned in this report.

Title: Kids Tribute

Publisher: Tribute Publishing

Target: 2-11

Circulation: 300,000

Frequency: Quarterly

Distribution: Free at Cineplex, AMC and independent theatres across Canada

(A French-language version, En Premiere Jeunesse, is distributed in Cineplex, Guzzo and independent theatres in Quebec. Circulation: 85,000)

Title: Whoa!

Publisher: YTV

Target: 6-11

Circulation: 200,000

Frequency: Quarterly

Distribution: Newsstand; subscription; offered free at Pizza Hut

Title: The Magazine Not for Adults

Publisher: Community Programs Group

Target: 8-14

Circulation: 200,000

Frequency: Monthly

Distribution: Subscription; sold at checkout counters of A&P, Dominion and Ultra Food and Drug Stores in Ont.; handed out by police officers on school visits

Title: Kidsworld

Publisher: Kidsworld

Target: 9-12

Circulation: 202,000

Frequency: Five times a year

Distribution: In 2,299 Canadian elementary schools

(A French-language version, Planete 912, is distributed in 495 Quebec elementary schools. Circulation: 75,000)

Title:Teen Tribute

Publisher: Tribute Publishing

Target: 12-17

Circulation: 300,000

Frequency: Quarterly

Distribution: Free at Cineplex, AMC and independent theatres across Canada

Title: Fuel/Verve

See story, page 27

Title: What magazine

See story, page 27

Title: Campus.ca

Publisher: Canadian Controlled Media Communications

Target: 18-24

Circulation: 140,000

Frequency: Quarterly

Distribution: Free on 140 campuses across Canada

Title: Student Body

Publisher: Student Body

Target: 18-25

Circulation: 100,000

Frequency: Quarterly

Distribution: Free on campuses across Canada, with the exception of Quebec

Title: Agent

Publisher: Canadian University Press

Target: 18-25

Circulation: 130,000

Frequency: Quarterly

Distribution: Inserted into student-run newspapers on 70 campuses, as well as 11,000 student subscriber copies of The Globe and Mail

Sidebar: Top Web sites for Canadian Youth

Kids 2-11

1. Pokémon.com

2. Foxkids.com

3. YTV.com

4. Bonus.com

5. Yahooligans.com

Teens 12-17

1. Newgrounds.com

2. Happypuppy.com

3. Bolt.com

4. Game-revolution.com

5. Nintendo.com

Age 18-24

1. Sportingnews.com

2. Ozemail.com.au

3. Facelink.com

4. Spray.se

5. Scour.com

Source: Media Metrix Canada, October 2000, Total Canada at Home

Note: The rankings reflect the percentage of site visitors who fall into the given age range.

Also in this report:

- YTV reaches kids ‘beyond the screen’: Advertisers buy in to multi-layered approach p.23

- Globe courts campus crowd with custom site p.25

- What magazine: Sparking initiatives p.27

- Watch split along gender lines p.27

- MuchMusic spins multi-channel promos p.28

- Tweens are media hogs: Demonstrate voracious appetite for all forms of information, says YTV study p.28