How does Gen C watch YouTube? On all screens, all the time

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | 6:00 PM

-->The way people consume content is changing. For the first time, an entire generation has grown up watching content on their own terms. This generation is defined by the Internet, mobile, and social - consuming content when and where they want. Nielsen calls this group Generation C because they are not just defined by their age group, but by their connected behavior. On YouTube, this generation thrives on 4Cs:

  • Connection - Gen C watches YouTube on all screens, constantly switching between devices.
  • Creation - Gen C is deeply engaged with online video, watching, creating and uploading videos on YouTube.
  • Community - Gen C thrive on community, defining what’s popular on YouTube by sharing videos with friends and family.
  • Curation - Gen C is made up of expert curators who care about finding content that matters to them.

Gen C is a powerful demographic - not only are they cultural tastemakers, they influence $500B of spending a year in the U.S. (U.S.Chamber of Commerce). Yet they can be a hard to reach audience for brands. Gen C are 45% more likely to be light TV viewers, choosing instead to consume many forms of content across many screens (GfK MRI Fall 2012).

Over the next few months, we’ll take a deeper look at Gen C, sharing insights and trends about our audience on YouTube. To start, we’re focusing on how Gen C watches YouTube across devices.

Multiscreen is essential to reaching Gen C

Young adults are leading the growth in smartphone ownership in the U.S. - 76% of 18-34 year olds now own smartphones, versus 60% of the general population (Nielsen Mobile Insights Survey, Q4 2012). To better understand how Gen C connects with YouTube across screens, we worked with Nielsen to take a look at viewing patterns on smartphones.

We found that that the amount of time Gen C spends watching YouTube on their smartphones is up 74% from last year. In fact, in 2012 the number of Gen C viewers who regularly watch YouTube on smartphones caught up to the number of viewers tuning in on their PCs. 67% of Gen C watch YouTube on two devices or more, compared to 53% of the general population.

How does Gen C watch YouTube on smartphones?

Gen C tunes in to YouTube throughout every part of their day. YouTube usage by Gen C on smartphones mirrors usage on PCs and peaks during prime time hours. 

Gen C watches YouTube on their smartphones as a complementary activity to their lives. For example, 41% tune in to YouTube on their smartphone while waiting for something/someone, 18% while commuting from work or school, and 15% tune in while commercials are running on TV.

On smartphones, most of Gen C engage with YouTube as a destination by actively searching for videos on YouTube (47%). Viewers are also discovering videos socially - 9% of respondents said they watched a video on their smartphone because it was shared by friends in an email, while 18% watched a video because it was shared on a social network.

What does this mean for brand marketers?

Caring deeply about creation, curation, connection, and community, Gen C have taken up permanent residence on YouTube, making it one of their primary daily destinations. We’re making it easy for you to connect with your most passionate fans wherever they watch YouTube. With TrueView video ads, you create one ad that we’ll run across all screens - helping you reach your audience at scale. And our new One Channel design for brand channels enable viewers to have a seamless experience with your brand on all devices.


To view an infographic of this research,visit Think Insights.

Posted by Gunnard Johnson, Advertising Research Director, Google.