It appears that people are talking less about brands than they did five years ago, according to a new report [download page] from Engagement Labs. This is especially true of the youngest consumers (aged 13-20), who are cutting the cord and turning away from traditional ad-supported TV and opting for different viewing channels. This bracket went from having an average of 115.2 conversations per week about brands in 2013 to 94.6 in 2018.

Back in 2013, television was still the channel which drove the most consumer conversations, generating 37.4% of all paid-media driven conversations. Five years later, TV is no longer the top paid-media conversation starter, with its percentage share dropping to 31.6%.

By contrast, as advertisers find new channels to inspire word of mouth, digital advertising has seen a surge in its share of paid-media driven brand conversations, going from 3rd among paid media 5 years ago (16.6% share) to basically running neck and neck with Tv at 31.8% share in 2018.

While this small 0.2% percentage difference is arguably within the margin of error, trends in advertising spending leave little room for doubt as to the likely future – that digital will quickly overtake TV as the top paid media channel for driving consumer conversation about brands. According to PwC, internet advertising spend in the US reached $99.8 billion in 2018, compared to television’s $71.0 billion. Not only that, the US digital advertising market is expected to reach $127.4 billion by 2022 while TV’s market size will only increase marginally to $74.9 billion.

Additional figures from eMarketer back this trend of traditional advertising taking a backseat to digital, predicting that US digital ad spend will make up more than half (54.2%) of the estimated total ad spend for 2019.

The Conversation Among the Younger Generation Is Changing

In the past five years, there has been a shift in what consumers are talking about. Consumers of all age groups are talking less about certain categories such as Telecom (down 22% from 2013), Technology (down 21%), Sports/Recreation (down 15%) and Media/Entertainment (down 11%). At the same time, conversations about more domestic topics, such as Home and Household Products, have risen (both up 13% from 2013).

Considering the persistent conversation about healthcare in the US, it may be somewhat of a surprise that conversations around the topics of Healthcare and Financial have seen no change in the past five years. However, when broken out by age, this story changes. Consumers under the age of 30 talked about Financial topics 22% more in 2018 than they did in 2013, while Healthcare experienced a 12% increase in conversations for this age group in the same time frame.

Household Products represent the area that has seen the greatest increase with younger consumers (up 25% from 2013). This is followed closely by Travel Services (up 24%) and Children (up 23%). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Technology and Telecom have both seen a dramatic decrease in conversations among the younger generation. Consumers under 30 years old talked about Technology 35% less and Telecom 32% less than they did just five years earlier.

Highlights: Brands Inspiring Conversation

A few other noteworthy points from the report follow:

  • While Apple ranked highest in conversations among teenagers last year, this report indicates that for all age groups, Apple was the technology brand that saw the biggest decrease in the number of conversations;
  • iPhone, however, was #1 among the tech brands with increased consumer conversations;
  • Food Dining was the top category for conversations for the total population, with convenience store brand 7-11 seeing the biggest increase in conversation, followed by Chick-fil-A and Domino’s Pizza.

To read more, find the report here.

About the Data: Figures are collected from Engagement Labs TotalSocial, which measures online and offline conversations about brands.

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