Europeans spend a lot of time on the web—half of all Europeans are regular users and 80% use a high speed connection. Thats nice, but every search marketer out there will tell you that you need to target specific groups. And one specific group of Europeans should be very interesting to search marketers: the youngsters.

The so called “digital generation”—those growing up entirely in the digital era—are our future, and taking a good look at them might tell you what the future will look like.

In Europe about 75% of youngsters under the age of 18 are using the web. Some countries have a higher penetration than others. In the Netherlands for example 93% of all people between six and 18 years old are online.

What do young people do online?

European youth have a lot of different things to do online. As you might expect, social media is the favorite pastime amongst the under 25 set. As in most countries, Facebook is rapidly growing though local social networks still play an important role.

Using the parents to reach the young people is not a good strategy. Youngsters are very reluctant regarding their parents online—they don’t want to be friends with their parents on social media and as befits a good teenager, parents “cannot be trusted.”

In the UK, young people even tend to trust the web more than their own parents. A survey of 1,000 people under 25 showed that 90% used the web to search for help in personal matters. But fewer than one-third preferred talking to his of her mom or dad. Somewhat paradoxically, most youngsters are uncomfortable on the web when it comes to privacy issues. So marketers must approach this group carefully.

Other areas where youngsters spend time online:

Online TV which saw growth in new users of about 50 percent last year. 30 percent of young people use the internet to watch TV.

Music—kids look for online music and are eager to listen and download songs.

Chat. Many youngsters, especially those in the age groups between ten and fifteen are very much “into” chat. MSN Messenger is still one of the most popular web tools in Europe.

Do European youths spend money online?

One of the big questions always is how to make money online. The music industry for example has suffered a lot from illicit file sharing of songs. A common attitude is that by smart searching you can get anything you want on the web, (almost) for free.

The “digital generation” has grown up with this idea, and it shows. Almost a third of European youngsters (those under the age of 25 in this case) have indicated they don’t want to pay for downloads or to view online content such as videos or music.

So does that mean the future looks dark for making money online? No, far from it. Although the European Commission’s Digital Competitiveness report shows a third of the youngsters don’t want to pay, 10 percent already do pay for online content, which is 5% above the entire European average. So the younger generation is more willing to pay for online services than the older generations.

So how do you get the attention of European youth, and how can you get them to actually pay for your services? The answer is actually pretty easy—just make an effort. The European youngsters do want to pay for online content as long as the quality is high and the service is good.

Key takeaways

If you want to reach European youth keep these keep points in mind:

  • Stay away from their parents
  • Find and target them on social networks
  • Give them something nice: quality matters
  • Gain their trust: be careful with privacy matters

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Multinational Search

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About The Author: is a Web/search strategist, international search specialist, trainer, and well-respected blogger. Bas is well informed about what's going on in the world of Internet and search marketing worldwide and especially Europe. Bas is the owner of Stateofsearch.com and also posts regularly on his personal blog.

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