8 Tech Terms Your Audience May Not Understand

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

technology-confusionWhen marketers and business owners talk to their colleagues about new technology they are often greeted to blank stares and dismissive glances. A recent study conducted for Vouchercloud.net shows that the problem may be that intended audience has no clue what’s being said when people are talking about common technology terms. The study of more than 2,900 men and women found that many people were confused about what many would consider essential technology definitions. The subjects were given tech and non-tech terms to define, picking from three definitions for each term. The study had some hilarious (and troubling) results. Here are eight tech terms your audience may not understand.

  1. HTML– Believe it or not, according to the study, about 1 in 10 Americans think “HTML” (the web design language) is a sexually transmitted disease. This may explain why IT guy is finding it hard to get dates.

  2. Gigabyte – As a common unit of digital storage found in the product descriptions of computer, tablets and phones, you’d think gigabyte would be well known. However, about one in four (27 percent) of the survey respondents identified “gigabyte” as an insect often found in South America.

  3. MP3 – The next stat is doubly disheartening. Nearly one in four (23 percent) thought an MP3 audio file was a robot from Star Wars. It’s time we got students back to the four Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic, and robots from Star Wars)!

  4. USB – Rather than the connection port on devices, 12 percent identified USB as an acronym for a European country. Apparently, these respondents weren’t good a world geography either.

  5. Software – This one almost seems defensible. The study reported that 15 percent said “software” referred to comfortable clothing rather than the programs that run computers. However, this seems like a mistake in reading since “soft wear” clothing is something you can find online.

  6. Motherboard – Surprisingly, 42 percent of the survey respondents believed a “motherboard” was the “deck of a cruise ship”. Since most people don’t open their computers, it’s understandable they wouldn’t know about the internal piece that connects all key components and devices.

  7. Blu-ray – Oddly, 18 percent of the subjects labeled “Blu-ray” as a marine animal. The movie industry has been promoting the Blu-ray high definition video system pretty heavily. It’s surprising there’s anyone who hadn’t heard of it. Though I admit, if there were a Blue Ray creature of the sea, I would like to see it.

  8. SEO – The last statistic is scary for internet marketers. More than 75 percent could not select what SEO stood for (remember, this is on a multiple choice test, where there were only three choices!). I don’t have to tell you what SEO is, do I? Cause you know I will.

It’s best to take studies like these with a grain of salt, the results may say more about the knowledge levels of the kind of people who respond to surveys than it does about the average American. The fact that it was published by a PR firm should tell you something. That said, it’s still a good reminder that sometimes it helps to explain technology to people who don’t work with it very often.


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