The Kids Are All Right: Marketing to Millennials

Written on
Aug 22, 2011 
Jeff Smith  |

ADOTAS – Marketing to “millennials” — the generation born after 1980 and the first generation to grow up with the Internet — has its unique challenges. Unlike their parents, technology is integrated deeply into their lifestyle, and provides the primary means of staying connected with friends, schools and family.

Here are just a couple of examples of their attitudes toward technology and how it contrasts with other generations before them:

Over the years we have been asked by hundreds of publishers, ad networks, agencies and brands what “works best” in assuring that ads get brand lift with millennials; that is the ads achieve success when measured against classic purchase funnel metrics such as awareness and intent. Here is some of what we have learned about this connected generation:

  • They want to be entertained
  • Entertainment, music, video and social sites generate the highest lift
  • Products need to be an integral part of their lives
  • Relatively inexpensive products like CPG and quick-service restaurants show high lift amongst a demographic that skews towards low income
  • Entertainment and technology remain top interests/hobbies for a demographic that expects to be entertained
  • They want experiential advertising

By analyzing recent campaigns targeted at this demographic, we find that (not surprisingly) advertisers in the following categories are focusing on millennial marketing:

  • CPG
  • Entertainment
  • Technology
  • Quick-service restaurants

We’ve also found that the context in which millennials see ads is a major factor in driving brand lift:

In addition, we’ve seen that more and more advertisers are incorporating rich media and video into their advertising mix, and the lift from those units outperforms display (although in the right environment, traditional display can and does still work).

Let’s look at one campaign in particular that promoted a new video game launch. It incorporated some of our key learnings such as They want to be entertained; they want experiential advertising; products need to be an integral part of their lives; and finally, Entertainment and Technology remain top interests/hobbies for a demographic that expects to be entertained.

For this campaign, a series of teaser videos were created and distributed through Sharethrough’s network of premium social sites, games, apps and advertising exchanges to provide targeted reach to a socially connected audience with a goal of creating awareness and purchase intent.

The videos were shareable, allowing interested users to spread them among their friends. Using our Ad Catalyst brand lift measurement solution, Sharethrough showed this social video approach increased Purchase Intent by 110%, meaning users who had seen the video were twice as likely to buy the game.

In general, advertisers most often seem to want to measure awareness and purchase intent. However, as this demographic makes their first brand choices, brands are also increasingly testing for and optimizing to Favorability and Association in an attempt to build loyal, life-long customers.

Millennials connected lifestyles create new opportunities for brand marketers to reach this desirable demographic, interact with them in a meaningful manner, and ultimately influence their opinion. Keep in mind, however, that this audience requires a unique approach, and adjust your advertising strategy and tactics appropriately.

Jeff Smith is responsible for Marketing, Client Services, and Operations at Vizu, with a focus on growing revenue from both new and existing customers. Prior to joining Vizu, he was Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Keibi Technologies, a leading provider of social media optimization solutions for companies leveraging user generated content to drive consumer engagement, where he tripled the company's revenues and helped create a new paradigm for deriving value from and monetizing social media. Mr. Smith’s accomplishments, which range from managing new product launches into domestic and international markets for the world's second largest software company, Oracle Corporation, to driving the growth of multiple new ventures from inception to ultimate acquisition, have been chronicled in Fortune Magazine, the New York Times, and S&D Executive's "Pro's to Know."

Mr. Smith graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate degree in Business Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles, and earned his MBA with honors from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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