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Millennials: Marketers’ Lost Generation?

2 minute read

Traditional TV’s viewership numbers have been dwindling for some time now, but fall premier week confirmed advertisers’ worst nightmare: millennials just aren’t that into terrestrial TV—and they have no problem calling it quits.

It shouldn’t come as a shock, considering that traditional TV usage has dropped an average of 4 percent since 2012 among viewers 18 to 34 years old. But this is the second autumn that showed a significant decrease in prime-time traditional TV viewership.

Last year, Nielsen reported that its viewership from millennial-aged women was down 13 points, while this year it’s the millennial men who’ve decided it time to switch off the tube. Ad Age reported that “TV viewing among adults 18-to-24 is now down 20 percent versus the first two nights of the 2014-15 season, and male usage in that age range has withered by nearly a quarter.”

NBC Universal’s audience research chief, Alan Wurtzel, told the New York Post that ““The change in behavior is stunning. The use of streaming and smartphones just year-on-year is double-digit increases. I’ve never seen that kind of change in behavior.”

As Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau and many others have been reporting for the past couple years, streaming video is avalanching toward becoming the No. 1 TV choice for millennials. The reason? It comes down to three factors: price, availability and customization.

Not only are younger adults searching for ways to better spend their money on the media services, streaming video doesn’t require a certain setting (living room) or a specific time (forcing them to watch a show live or set up a DVR series recording). Plus, streaming allows for another important luxury: value. No more paying for channels never watched. Digital video means you can watch and pay (or not pay) for ONLY what they wish to see.

Currently, Nielsen’s traditional ratings don’t keep track of streaming viewer numbers—a massive problem for marketers trying to reach and measure performance of campaigns targeting 18- to 34-year-old viewers, or one of the largest demographics to watch streaming.

So the million-dollar question remains for advertisers: how do we effectively market to millennials and measure results?

While streaming video popularity is on the rise among millennials, it’s not the only platform to find engaged 18-34 year olds. Marketers can still tap:

  • Radio: An advertiser’s unwavering media platform, radio has remained one of the most engaging channels for millennials, with 91.3 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 tuning in weekly (according to Nielsen’s latest Audience Report). Moreover, contemporary hits radio stations have transformed over the last decade to meet the needs and wants of their millennial audiences—offering expanded lineups of artists across all genres, plus multiple ways to connect with the stations (digital, texting, etc.).
  • Email Marketing: Some advertisers find success reaching target millennial audiences by sharing email subscribers lists with like category clients whose products likely speak to younger audiences (and if you’ve captured age data? It’s all the better!). For example, a customer who bought running shoes would likely be interested in another athletic product, such as running outwear or accessories.
  • Social Media: Don’t forget about the power of granular social media targeting, like Facebook dark posting. And with more than 60 percent of American smart phone users ages 13 to 34 using Snapchat, the company is touting itself as “the best way to reach 13- to 34-year-olds.”

While any smart marketer knows it’s ill-advised to put all your campaign eggs into one media basket, there is good news for those searching for the best way to measure streaming video. Nielsen’s global president Steve Hasker announced at Advertising Week seminar in late September that by the end of 2015 the firm will be able to provide “total audience measurement”—or a read of all audience activity on both traditional and digital platforms.

Want to reach millennials right now through effective direct response marketing? Let’s talk. Marketing Architects has nearly two decades of marketing experience in all industries. We want to help you reach the audiences you’re after.

Chuck Hengel

By Chuck Hengel

Founder & CEO

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