Report: Teens and Kids Potential Online Gold Mine

Kids and teenagers made up nearly 20 percent of the overall online population in the month of July, highlighting the group’s growing importance for Internet commerce and marketing, according to a report from Nielsen//NetRatings.

The research firm said that about 20 million of the 100 million people who went online in July were younger than 17. That age group spent an average of nine hours on the Web during the month and initiated 16 online sessions each.

“The lack of a credit card may hinder immediate participation in e-commerce by kids and teens,” said T.S. Kelly, director and principal analyst at NetRatings, “but their sheer size represents a unique opportunity for marketers to relay their branding messages and develop loyalty among future online buyers.”

Savvy and Chatty

While they make up only one-fifth of the online population, young people account for nearly one-quarter of all instant messaging traffic. In July, 11.5 million teens and children used a messaging application, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

“Young surfers are generally more technologically savvy as compared to other age groups,” Kelly said, adding that for that reason, young people often choose instant messaging over e-mail.

In fact, the ability to send instant messages or chat online drives much of the teen traffic, with nine of the top 15 sites for that age group, including and, featuring chat tools.

Where They Go

Unlocking the teen market has proven difficult for e-commerce in the past. Several online malls designed to replicate the social gathering places of the brick-and-mortar worldhave come and gone.

The most common hurdle cited is a lack of credit cards and other non-cash payment methods among young people, although they have been offered a host of alternatives. And the debate about targeting teen consumers also has become an obstacle.

More recently, the rise of multichannel shopping has offered an opportunity for retailers to use the Web to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, because few teens complete purchases online.

GartnerG2 research director David Schehr told the E-Commerce Times that although the teen market will probably never pay massive dividends, it still makes sense as a marketing target.

“There’s probably more long-term benefit than immediate payoff at the cash register, either online or offline,” Schehr said. “For brand-building, that’s more of a natural fit.”

Adult Themes

The report found a stable environment elsewhere on the Web, with big-name players continuing to dominate NetRatings’ list of companies responsible for the most Internet traffic.

NetRatings ranked Microsoft first with an audience of 83 milllion in July, followed by AOL Time Warner with 80 million, Yahoo! with 76 million and Terra Lycos with 33 million. ranked fifth with an audience of 32 million.

Amazon also ranked as the top online advertiser in July, with about 3.1 billion ad impressions generated. Runner-ups included,, USA Interactive and Columbia House.

Dell, AOL Time Warner and Sabre, the parent of Travelocity and other travel properties, also appeared on the advertising top 10 list.


  • I AM sure that 20 million kids could be a great potential source of income. However my problem (with credit card in hand) is when I find a site selling a product I’m interested in, there is a box asking for a five-digit zip code, unlike the six-character alphanumeric here in Canada. The next problem is with the box looking for a state. The drop-down box has all the US states, with no option for input, Canada has provinces and territories. So I now have the page completely filled out, minus these two pesky details, and the end result, another US retailer loses my business. While that figure of 20 million may sound good, Canada has a population of 30 million, and a lot of them, like me, are adults with credit cards.

      • Most sites also offer a phone number (usually toll-free) that you can call directly to make your purchase. the alternative is drop-down menus that offer choices like: Yen, Ruble, Mark, Franc, Wompom, Eurodollar, Disney bucks, Gilders, Carwash tokens, bottle caps, baseball cards.
        As for the address, same problem: County, State, Province, Zip Code, Village, Hut, Trailer…. and on and on and on. And the Laaannnnd of the Freeeeeeeee and the Hooooome of thaaaaa Braaaaaave!

          • It’s been my unfortunate experience that most US retailers think the world’s borders begin and end at the sign that says "You are now entering/leaving the US of A." As for 800 numbers, the last one I called gave me the message that I could not call from my area, hint, read Canada. The reason I wanted to call instead of using the net was that the only option for delivery was $55, this on two items whose total was slightly less than $100. Were I to live in the aforementioned US of A, I could get it for about 12 bucks. We love to hate our postal system as much as anyone, but even they don’t add that much to the tally. And while I can see the convenience of drop-down menus, the programmer using them is making the mistaken assumption that he/she is smarter than the customer. It ain’t so. As an example; if my postal code was A1A-1A1, The US-centric programmer would not allow a dash between characters, or for that matter a space. To that programmer, only A1A1A1 would be accepted, although very few Canadians would write it as such. As for the sites that have a drop-down box that actually lists literally dozens of countries, they seem to realize they are selling to the world. If they list all those countries, you can be sure that the other options to be filled out, or for additional comments (something lacking on most sites), are the correct ones.
            Here I sit at my computer, credit card in hand,
            if only your site would let me in,
            to spend it in your land.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

E-Commerce Times Channels