The Decline of Television and Marketing to Millennials

marketing to millennials

A recent study by Omnicom Media Group revealed that 47% of those aged between 22 and 45 watch no content on traditional television. Instead, streaming and mobile platforms are rapidly gaining popularity, with smartphones overtaking television in 2016 as the most-used device among millennials. And among those millennials who do watch traditional television, viewership continues to decline – two thirds of program viewing takes place via streaming services, leaving little room for traditional television.

What Platforms Are Millennials Using?

Despite already low figures, the number of traditional TV viewers is still declining, with viewing figures dropping 10% among the under-35 demographic in the past year . And even when millennials do watch TV, it’s often after a program has aired – making it easier than ever to skip through advertising. This presents an obvious dilemma for advertisers: how can we engage young audiences when they’re forgoing traditional advertising channels, have less patience for ads, and are using more devices than ever before?

Studies indicate that the answer lies in social media – in particular, video content. Video engagement among social platforms is rising, with more companies investing in Facebook and Instagram video content in an attempt to “nativley enter” consumers’ lifestyles. The former is fast establishing itself as a “destination for premium video content”, with the recent addition of ads inserted into videos 90 seconds or longer – a modern adaptation of traditional TV advertising. It’s estimated that video content will make up 80% of web traffic by 2021 – millennials aren’t quitting TV, they’re just changing how they access it.

So What Does This Mean for Advertisers?

The shift from television to online is one that advertisers will need to swiftly adapt to in order to retain and engage millennial audiences. Traditional advertising’s “one-way street” approach doesn’t work for younger audiences – while millennials are generally happier to sit through ads, this is because they are bouncing between devices. Unsurprisingly, this results in lower memorability for traditional television advertising.

In 2016, advertising budgets across the industry saw digital surpass television for the first time – and the gap is expected to widen as smartphones usage increases. For companies seeking to connect with young audiences, a strong presence across multiple media platforms – including emerging ones – is crucial.

How Should Companies Retain Millennials’ Attention?

Forbes notes that it’s important to meet millennials where they are – that is, everywhere. The multitasking nature of millennials means that for maximum efficacy, brands should aim to divide advertising content across multiple platforms. By doing so, this extends your reach – and is more likely to be seen (and seen more often) by millennial audiences.

Additionally, a one-size-fits-all approach to advertising will not work on younger audiences. Millennials want to feel engaged with, not talked to – this means that narrowly focused content with an inclusive feel will be far more effective than traditional advertising. Companies like Apple and Google, which seek to create a community around their brand, are at the forefront of this type of advertising. Authentic engagement is also important – it’s been shown that young audiences actually want brands to reach out to them via social media. Ultimately, millennials are willing to engage with brands – as long as it’s on their terms.

Joe Fox is Studio Culture’s Business and Development Director.