The Millennial Reach.

The Millennial ReachI’m moderating an Advertising Week panel next Wednesday called “Breaking Through:  Media Strategies that Impact and Reach Millennials.”  I didn’t name the panel:  If I had, I’d probably have left the word reach out of the description.

As I’ve told many customer groups over the last few years, reaching millennials is not the problem.  There are a hundred programmatic strategies to put an ad message in front of a critical mass of millennials. Heck, a reasonably well-designed cable buy will get you the reach, if that’s what you care about.  But reach is not the point.  In fact, for publishers and media companies it can be a fatal distraction.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by AppNexus. Join AppNexus at this year’s Yield Executive Summit, taking place on Wednesday, September 28, in New York City.  We look forward to an exclusive day of discussions and presentations with top influencers in digital advertising as we examine the essential tools that every publisher must have for successful monetization and digital acceleration.

When reduced to the concept of reach, millennials are the new adults/25-39. It’s just math. When it comes to impact, however, there’s a lot of good work to be done.  Most of what we think we know about millennials is made up of stereotypes and bland generalities.  But one thing is true:  they are the first generation to grow up in a world of constant connection and unlimited media and communication choice.  And that fact informs the ways in which we can truly help marketers.  We need to give them solid guidance on three factors:  distribution, form and tone.

Distribution:  To the cable programmer, the connection has to be made on its own channels; to the web publisher, it’s all about who comes to my site or spends time with my app.  But that’s becoming a fool’s errand.  We must understand and offer strategies based on how young consumers will really experience, participate in and share the conversation.

Form:  Is the banner ad a dead issue in persuading millennials to do anything?  Pretty much.  And the canned 15 or 30 second pre-roll ad is not far behind.  And the kind of typical social posts executed by many marketers today are also headed for the boneyard.  The question we need to help marketers answer is, “when it comes to millennials, what will replace the ad unit?”    In the short run, we can advise them on things like ad size and video length, but that’s really just kicking the can.  Millennial consumers reject ads.  We need something else.

Tone:  Perhaps the best way for publishers and media companies to make a difference for marketers is to become their millennial translators.  Too often, the marketer’s attempts and native content, social participation or influencer marketing have the same effect as your dad showing up at the bar where you and your friends hang out.  And if he’s grown a hipster beard and tosses out cliché buzzwords, all the worse.  Finding an authentic and legitimate voice in the millennial conversation is what is most imperative to the marketer.  You can help with that.

Care to join the conversation?  Post your comments below and plan to join us on Wednesday, September 28th at 4:30 at the Liberty Theater on 42nd Street.  Walker Jacobs (Fandom), Kathy Kayse (Yahoo!), Andrew Capone (NCC) and Ben Dietz (VICE) will help us unpack the issues.  If you’re not registered, go here. See you next week.

Six Questions for The Futures Company.

 The Futures Company helps us understand the recent past, the actions and choices consumers are making today, and how they shape the trends and themes that will we’ll all grapple with in the immediate future.  President of Consulting Services Don Abraham will kick off the upcoming Seller Forum on Wednesday October 21st in New York.

Six Questions for the Futures Company (2)

  1. Since our theme at the Seller Forum will be leadership, let’s start there. In a big picture sense, how might corporate leaders be tested by the emerging themes you guys are seeing at TFC?

Companies, and even entire industries, are rising and falling faster than ever before.  Leadership is about constant learning in order to stay relevant and the type of learning environment leaders create within their organizations.

  1. I’m fascinated by “the Centennials” and how their behavior and attitudes will differ from Millennials. They’ll view data sharing and social media pretty differently, no?

Think of it as the difference between “look at me!” and “talk with me!”. Millennials often were mocked for sharing seemingly every aspect of their lives with the world—and a tendency to treat that sharing as a broadcast rather than a discussion. Centennials seem more circumspect about oversharing than their older peers.   Also, they don’t have much important data to really share right now, so it will be interesting to see where this goes in the future as more enter young adulthood.

  1. You’ve discussed how it’s not so much about the group I belong to, but more about the group I identify with going forward. Is this the beginning of the end of demographics in marketing?

No, and a little “maybe.” But mostly no. Race, gender, religion, etc. seem far less important to identity, affiliation and social status compared to the past. But demographics still retain an important role. Age demographics are still important because they are synonymous with key life stage milestones.

  1. What can you tell us about further shifts in consumer’s relationship with television and media consumption?

Media discovery has become an enormous issue for both media companies and consumers as the paths of distribution and content creation have fragmented and diversified. No less important is the growing desire for personalization and curation to empower discovery. The upshot is that brands will need to use all the available tools; human, data and utility design. Easy right?

  1. Marketers are dealing with media fragmentation, a huge volume of data, and the emergence of social, mobile….. Is there even more change in the immediate future or is this enough?

Very few if any consumers have said that there were too many fun apps to play with and that the app market has just been too darn helpful in getting things done (banking, music, movies, maps, communication…..) If you are hoping for less advancement, good luck with that. That being said, there will undoubtedly be a consolidation in media platforms, services and the complexity of payments and access. People do love new options and great new content, but they don’t love jumping through a million hoops to get access to it or managing dozens of service agreements and price fluctuations.

  1. What’s going to surprise me most as a consumer in the 5 years ahead?

​The consumer decision making process is shifting radically; we will no longer default to making purchasing decisions on the basis of our own evaluations, preferences, or rules-of-thumb. Rather, we will increasingly outsource that decision making process to technology. I think you will be surprised the degree to which you will rely on them to take over a growing number of your day-to-day decisions.

If you lead a national or regional digital media sales organization request your invitation to the Fall Seller Forum – “Leadership is Not Optional” — or call us at 802.985.2500 for more details. 80% of our available spots are already gone, so save yours today.