Marketers Aren’t Ready for Emma

By Tad Miller | Jan 30, 2014
More Articles by Tad

The earth spins at over 1,000 miles an hour, but you don’t realize it. Change is constant and rapid…but some stubbornly cling to their current static situation. Change is part of every walk of life and every profession, including marketing.

The changes in marketing are also happening at 1,000 miles per hour, but some seem to be acting like the status quo, in that where the marketing dollars get spent will last forever. Enter my 8-year-old kick in the head…

Your days are numbered my friend. My generation is going to change everything.

Your days are numbered my friend. My generation is going to change everything.

Emma and Her Friends Are Shattering Your Current Marketing Strategy

Emma is 8 years old. She’s whip-smart, creative and very tech-savvy. She’s girly, artistic…and she’s the future.

Emma has grown up playing with her parents’ smart phones. From an extremely early age, she’s been able to figure out how to access everything a smart phone has to offer. She has no idea how to use our land line phones and has no interest in answering them. She has grandparents that live 1,500 miles away, but has always talked to them every week via webcam.

Emma likes to watch TV but she has no idea how to use most of the buttons on our DirecTV remote. We have Google TV at our house and she would rather use this:

Google TV Remote

This is so much simpler. Right?

The thing is, Emma doesn’t watch network TV. She goes straight to Netflix as soon as she turns the TV on. If she gets bored with that (which is rare) she will go to the DVR list to see if there are newer versions of the Disney Channel shows she watches on Netflix. She doesn’t see any TV commercials on Netflix and she fast-forwards through them on the DVR. She also watches Netflix on her Kindle tablet. There isn’t a single show on network TV that she cares about, with the possible exception of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

She sees her parents watch the nightly news over dinner every night and how they fast-forward through all of the Cialis and other commercials targeted to people much older than them. Emma has friends whose parents have “cut the cord” and gotten rid of cable or satellite TV in favor of over-the-air digital TV, Hulu and Netflix (it’s happening more everyday).


Emma’s school gave all of the kids in her class Google Accounts.  They have Google Docs, a Google Drive for cloud storage and a Gmail address that she will probably keep for the duration of her education in the school district.  She’s in the third grade and she’s been giving class presentations with the Google Docs version of PowerPoint.  When her parents were in school, Apple computers were the predominant computer used in schools. Her school has figured out that since they are already using Google Docs they can use Google Chromebooks and pay a fraction of what they would pay for a PC with Windows.

Santa was also generous to Emma and she received a Google Chromebook for Christmas, so now she can work on homework and watch more Netflix on it too. She plays educational games like Reflex Math and some non-educational ones like the Build-a-Bear workshop games.

The new textbook.

The new textbook.

She Tells Her Devices What to Do

Emma has watched her parents use voice search on their phones and has been known to just grab the phone herself and ask it questions about ancient Greece or the pyramids or whatever topics she’s been learning about at school. Her Chromebook also does voice searches, as well as her Google TV, which she uses all the time to find shows and research things like the water cycle or the Titanic.

Google TV voice search

Can you tell your TV what to do? Emma’s can.


Emma listens to the radio on the drive to school because her parents have it on. She really has no interest in listening to it at any other time. Her primary method of music discovery is summer camp or whatever she hears on movie soundtracks. If she doesn’t like what’s on the radio and wants to listen to music, she just puts on her headphones and listens to what she has on her Kindle. She thinks her parents’ old CDs look cool, but every note of music she possesses was downloaded.

The Future

By the time Emma turns 18, it’s entirely possible that cars will have operating systems like Android, as will appliances and electronics like refrigerators, TVs and any number of things. However, it seems unlikely that she’ll have a land line phone, or cable or satellite TV. Local TV stations will probably still be going with first-run network, sports and local programming. Local radio will likely also be on, but will be in competition with cloud-based radio and music storage platforms. Media fragmentation between all of the entertainment options will make today’s 500 TV channels seem almost manageable.

The traditional means of mass communication, TV, Radio and Print (laugh), will still exist but the ad impressions from them will be microscopic compared to what they are today. How will you reach her to sell your products or services?

The future of advertising is likely small-scale and hyper-targeted based on online behavior (online will get bigger when the “Internet of Things” becomes a reality.  It’s even possible that we might live in a world where things like TV, cars or refrigerators are given to you for free – as long as you agree to watch advertising on them everyday. It seems most likely that the “Internet of Things” will be powered by the Google Android Operating System and her mobile phone will be the thing that controls all of her other ancillary IOT devices. The billions of dollars that are spent on TV, Radio and Print will have shifted to digital channels and the current advertising media allocations will have turned thenselves upside down, with digital on top and today’s mass media at the bottom of the media budget food chain.

Either way, you’ve got your work cut out for you with this one. It’s not going to be easy. She hates ads.

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