Millennials, Millennials Everywhere — But How to Reach Them?

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Much like the “Rime (yes, that’s actually the correct spelling) of the Ancient Mariner” (“Water, water, everywhere; nor any drop to drink”), marketers are often faced with a similar conundrum when it comes to reaching Millennials: Their plentiful numbers are tantalizing but belie the fact that they can be quite difficult to engage.

Millennials (born 1977-1999) are 77 million strong, on par with Boomers, and represent 24% of the population. (1) However, more important than their sheer numbers is their purchasing power — $170 billion annually. Their spending will continue to grow and is expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. (2)

Despite Millennials’ vast numbers, for most marketers reaching them is a challenge. More than any other generation, Millennials have been shaped by advances in technology and computing. A 2014 Pew study found that 25% of Millennials believe their relationship to technology is what makes their generation unique. This is a generation that has no concept of an Internet-less world. Their widespread ownership and usage of smartphones, tablets, computers and the Internet has changed how Millennials communicate and interact with each other and the world at large.

Media Habits

As a result of their life-long comfort and familiarity with digital media, the media consumption habits of Millennials are quite different from those of previous generations.

Millennials are more likely to be light users of traditional media, i.e., linear TV, and more likely to be heavy users of digital media.  According to 2014 Spring GfK MRI, the Millennial index is 150 for the light TV viewing quintile and 153 for the heavy Internet usage quintile.

And they are fast leaving traditional television.  As Claire Atkinson wrote in the New York Post on February 16, 2015: “So far this season, younger viewers, the most important audience for advertisers, have ditched their TV sets at more than double the rate of previous years, new Nielsen figures show. Traditional TV usage — which has been falling among viewers ages 18 to 34 at around four percent per year since 2012 — tumbled 10.6 percent between September and January.”

Advertisers, of course, have recognized this trend and have changed the allocation of their media budgets — spending more in digital media. And, they’ll continue to spend dollars in digital media to reach the Millennial consumer.

More and more of these dollars are finding their way to Digital Place Based (DPB) media.

DPB media is defined as networked digital video screens with programming and content. These screens reach consumers throughout their daily journeys: In office buildings, shopping malls, gyms/health clubs, bars/restaurants, airplanes/airports, inside taxis and public transit, medical offices, gas stations, etc.

Advertisers are starting to seek DPB Media to deliver video advertising previously utilizing the TV screen.  According to Nielsen, 63% of TV consumption comes from just 33% of consumers, while 94% of online video consumption comes from only 18% of viewers. In light of these figures, DPB helps extend video reach — without any of the fraud or viewability issues increasingly surfacing in online and mobile advertising. Reach and frequency studies have shown that combinations of DPB networks also produce lower CPMs.

DPB Media — Effective in Reaching Millennials

DPB media has proven effective in reaching Millennials. Across 17 venues measured by MRI, approximately 4.5 out of 10 viewers are Millennials, an index of 142. Composition by venue ranges from a high of 51% of viewing in bars/pubs to 35.4% of viewing in medical offices.

DPB Venue Millennial Viewer Composition INDEX
Bars/Pubs 51 168
Gyms/Health Clubs 48.8 161
Cafes or Delis 48.6 160
Office Building Lobbies 48.4 159
Office Building Elevators 47.4 156
Inside Taxis 45.7 151
Movie Theater Lobbies 44.9 148
Convenience Stores 44.3 146
Fast Food/Family Restaurants 43.3 143
Shopping Malls 42.5 140
Drug Stores 41.6 137
Warehouse/Club Stores 41.6 137
Airports 39.6 131
Discount/Department Stores 39 129
Grocery Stores 37.6 124
Sports/Entertainment Stadiums 36.5 120
Medical Offices 35.4 117
Average DPB Venue 43.3 142
% US Adult Population 30.4 100
Source: 2014 Spring GfK MRI

DPB has fewer wasted impressions than primetime television in reaching Millennials — only 31.8% of viewers to the average primetime TV program are Millennials (index of 105).

Millennial Viewer Composition % INDEX
Average Primetime TV Program(1) 31.8 105
% US Adult Population 30.4 100
(1) Includes top 20 primetime TV programs  based on 4 week reach for Millennials
Source: 2014 Spring GfK MRI

As Christina Radigan, director of marketing and communications, Outdoor Media Group, says, “There are enormous benefits to engaging Millennials. A key strategy to achieving this engagement is to take a video-agnostic approach, one that results in the delivery of contextually-relevant, time-sensitive content combined with the flexibility to quickly change messaging.”

Sources:  (1) Nielsen 2014/Millennials-Breaking the Myths

(2) American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation, The Boston Consulting Group & Barkley

Note: Millennials are defined as adults age 18-34 in the MRI analyses

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Media Village management or associated bloggers.