Millennials Pose Unique Marketing Challenges – And Familiar Ones

Millennials, as children of the digital era, pose unique marketing challenges. However, you are more likely to engage them with online video ads and social media with videos. That said, it never hurts to know you target audience and recognize they are a moving target.

Millennials, as children of the digital era, pose unique marketing challenges. However, you are more likely to engage them with online video ads and social media with videos. That said, it never hurts to know you target audience and recognize they are a moving target.

Millennials are a moving target, so it helps to understand as much as you can about their demographics. Salesforce did the homework for you.

Millennials are a moving target, so it helps to understand as much as you can about their demographics. Salesforce did the homework for you.

Marketing to Millennials is admittedly a challenge. They are as interested in car-sharing as car-buying. Owning a home is less important than being close to the action. They don’t read newspapers or watch commercial television. Their choice of channels seems to change regularly.

To get a better handle on Millennials, a real estate company commissioned a survey and discovered online video advertising is the best vehicle to engage this target audience. Not exactly a eureka moment, but it does confirm – at least for now – that online video still holds appeal.

Online video ads are not a silver bullet. According to the survey, 21 percent of the 1,100 Millennials interviewed said they engage with online video ads, contrasted to only 11 percent of people 39 years or older. Fourteen percent of Millennial respondents said they engage with social media ads with videos.

It’s worth noting, the survey indicated 31 percent of Millennial respondents say they don’t engage with online ads. More than four in 10 older adults say the same thing. That suggests Millennials are simply hard to engage with ads anywhere online.

What the survey underscores is the value of visual content. The second highest source of online engagement (17%) is social media ads with pictures. They attract the highest percentage (14%) of older adults, too.

Search engine ads work better to engage older adults (12%) than Millennials (9%). Display ads on websites and native ads don’t work that well with younger or older adults, based on survey results.

Tommy O’Shaughnessy of Clever Real Estate, which commissioned the survey, says, “In many ways, YouTube has assumed the functional role of television for Millennials. According to an eMarketer study, Millennials watch more digital video than traditional video content, making YouTube an incredibly important tool for marketers.”

He adds, “While Facebook is still the dominant social media platform and reaches the widest audience, the preferences of younger Millennials have begun shifting toward YouTube and Instagram, where video content is more readily available and more fundamental to the experience. However, despite the recent Millennial migration away from Facebook, ads run on the social networking megalith are still more likely to lead to a purchase than ads run on any other platform.” The migration of Millennials from Facebook appears to be tied to growing concerns about its privacy policies.

One nugget buried in the survey is that Millennials are 54 percent more likely than older adults to buy a product suggested by a social media celebrity. That may be the byproduct of older adult unfamiliarity with most social media celebrities.

It may not set apart Millennials from other adults, but the survey underscores they like to laugh and learn at the same time. “Marketing campaigns that provide value to their audience through funny and informative video content stand the best chance of engaging their viewers,” O’Shaughnessy says. “Humorous content is the most likely to strike a chord with millennials (44%), while informative content comes in second (30%).”

“Amusing and informative advertisements elicit good responses from Millennials and Baby Boomers, with the latter demonstrating a slight preference for informative ads,” he explains. “However, marketers need to exercise caution when trying to grab their audience’s attention with a shocking ad, as these performed abysmally across both generations – only 4% of Millennials and 3% of Baby Boomers stated that unsettling ads resonate with them.”

While Millennials, children of the digital age, pose unique marketing challenges, they are still part of the human race. “Although this generation has its idiosyncrasies, Millennial marketing is not such a hard nut to crack,” O’Shaughnessy argues. “Millennials crave content that feels valuable, honest, personal and sticks out from the rest of their feeds. The best way to accomplish this is to create video marketing campaigns that utilize influencers and provide funny, informative content to a brand’s audience.”


The Race for Speed

New research shows major corporations rely more on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to convey their timely messages and less on blogging and podcasts. The reason is a race for speed.

Messages circulate faster on widely used social media platforms, especially Twitter, which has emerged as an essential tool for news aggregators and message advocates. Twitter and Facebook also are now mainstays in the toolkits of crisis communicators.

Blogs, video blogs, message boards and podcasts remain in the mix, but have leveled off in use and adoption because they typically take longer to produce and post. Wikis and MySpace have fallen into disuse by corporations.

These findings come from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. It began benchmarking corporate use of social media in 2007 and has conducted annual studies since then. Study results are compiled from telephone interviews with the top 500 companies in the United States as listed by Inc. Magazine. Researchers said 34 percent of the top 500 companies participated in the survey.

If there is a general reluctance among businesses to embrace social media, the research shows that hesitancy isn't shared by the larger, fast-growing companies.

Not surprisingly, corporate use of social media has changed, even in the last 12 months, as business has evolved and —perhaps more important — as use of mobile technology has exploded, giving users real-time access to news and other content.

Facebook Dominates, But May Not Satisfy

Facebook is still king of the social media universe, but its users are grumpy, which could open a door for a challenger that provides better customer satisfaction.Customer satisfaction ratings for Facebook continue to lag, which might afford an opening for a competitor such as Google+, according to survey results released last week by ForeSee Results.

"The social media market is primed for a new player that allows users to connect with friends," ForeSee Results predicts, based on customer experience analytics used in its American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). "Despite a small improvement this year, Facebook is the lowest-socring site, not only in the social media category, but of all measured companies in this report."

Wikipedia ranks highest among social media sites at 78, with YouTube at 74 as runner-up. Facebook's score is 66.

"An existing dominance of market share like Facebook," says ForeSee Results CEO Larry Freed, "is no longer a safety net for a company that is not providing a superior customer experience." Noting Facebook's even worse rating last year, Freed said some customers may be dissatisfied with the site's evolution as a commercial platform.

Tellingly, MySpace was dropped from the survey because of too few users. Google+ wasn't scored because it was just introduced.

Google scores a survey-topping 83 in the search engine and portal category. Bing follows closely behind with a score of 82, an impressive 7-point jump over last year.

"Last year, Google's customer satisfaction score was three points better than Bing's," Freed notes. "This year, that gap narrows to one point. Bing is showing it can challenge Google in terms of revenue, market share and the customer experience."

News websites also are ranked and comes out on top with a score of 82. ABCNews,com is next with a score of 77 and debuts with a bottom-of-the-rung 69. dropped four points this year to a score of 73.