By  on April 29, 1994

NEW YORK -- Is there a fountain of money to support the fountain of youth?

There's no question the under-30 set is a hot demographic. Some ad pros think the shopaholic youth market will prove to be even bigger than the beloved boomers, and a new crop of upstart publishers is betting the farm that there's plenty of ad money around.

According to a Rand poll conducted in 1993, teens spent $60 billion of their own money and $29.7 billion of their parents' money, and they influenced another $139 billion of their family's purchases. By the year 2000, if the growth trend continues, teens will be spending close to $100 billion on a variety of consumer products.

But newcomers to the teen media wars may not find the going smooth.

While ad executives predict steady growth in the number of dollars targeted at youths, they caution that the market is already served by a variety of trendy magazines and the increasingly powerful MTV.

On the publishing front, the scene is dominated by Seventeen, Details and YM. Meanwhile, Sassy has managed to garner editorial respect, but is still struggling for ad dollars. Currently, Lang Communications is looking for new investors, fueling rumors that Sassy is up for sale, which the magazine's publisher, Linda Cohen, denied.

Television, particularly MTV and Fox Network's Wednesday night teen lineup, has emerged as a must-buy for big brands like Levi's, or for image- driven companies like Merry-Go-Round, which made its debut on MTV this month.

TV advertising is expensive, but very effective for brand building, observers noted. MTV goes into about 60 million homes in the U.S., while Fox's "90210" and "Melrose Place" are among the network's highest-rated shows.

Depending on the time of day, a 30-second spot on MTV costs from $3,000 to $7,000 -- and, as one ad exec said, "You don't run just one spot. You have to do a campaign to be effective." Add to that the cost of producing the commercial, which can easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In addition, the market attracts a new entry every few weeks, all promising they have their hand on the seismograph of the youth quake. Newcomers include Tell, Mouth 2 Mouth, Swing and Quake.

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