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Marketing to a distracted generation

Marketing to a distracted generation Paul Lyonette

Millennials represent almost a quarter (23%) of the UK population, so hold significant purchasing power. As the well-documented Baby Boomer demographic retires, Millennials will move into their shoes, assuming more senior positions at work and making the most of their enhanced financial position.


Studies show that this younger group of consumers understandably interacts differently with media compared to older generations. So how is media consumption by Millennials changing and what does this mean for advertisers looking to engage their attention?


Multi-tasking across devices has become the norm with Ofcom recently reporting that more than  half (53%) of all UK adults now media multi-task while watching TV, with this figure rising to almost three quarters (74%) for people within the 16-24 age bracket. Instant messaging, video streaming, social media updates, and online shopping are all likely to take place on mobile devices while watching TV, and this behaviour has ensured that the smartphone – often referred to (perhaps incorrectly?) as the ‘second screen’ – is now leading the way for Millennials as their device of choice.


 In a recent Weve survey almost half (46%) of respondents in the 18-34 age group cited mobile as their first and most important screen, with only 12.4% reporting that TV – once the epicentre of most homes – was their most important screen.


These facts could be perceived as bad news for marketers, but instead it should be viewed as an exciting opportunity. The benefit of online content is that it offers users the ability to view whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want it, leading to an audience that is actively engaged in the content they are viewing rather than passively watching what simply happens to be on TV. More and more consumers are also abandoning traditional TV for online content, with a recent study by Deloitte indicating that Millennials use TV for just 53% of their video-viewing, compared to 71% for the population as a whole.


This means marketers stand to benefit from the rise of addressable TV, which offers the branding impact of traditional TV combined with the targeting and precision of online advertising.


These new devices are also good news for retailers as 6% of all retail sales in the last year originated from mobiles and tablets, with online shopping as a whole counting for almost one in five (18%) of all retail sales. However, a recent survey by Harris Interactive indicated that, when purchasing, Millennials are more heavily influenced by factors like social media, with a study by AOL also indicating that they are more likely to browse and make impulse buys. With this in mind, they require a tailored approach to advertising that complements their browsing habits and the types of devices they use.


The key, therefore, to capturing the attention of a distracted multi-screen audience is to create campaigns that leverage the unique characteristics of mobile devices rather than simply creating TV or desktop style adverts to run across all channels. Viewing on a mobile is highly personal so advertisers need to create powerful, emotional experiences, using techniques such as multi-screen storytelling to engage viewers on a different level from standard TV ads.


When using video on mobile, a thirty second spot works, it just works better with touch screen integration. Mobile and tablet advertising should also make use of the interactive touch-screen nature of the devices to help create dynamic ads where consumers can engage with brands and discover products – perhaps allowing users to influence the outcome of the ad by voting or selecting different options. Finally, brands need content that works across multiple devices to create a customer experience that flows logically from one screen to another, ensuring maximum brand impact and realised efficiencies for marketers.


Multi-screen viewing is now a way of life and the average living room is a hub of digital activity, which is especially true when it comes to the younger generation. The rise of mobile devices will always bring a degree of distraction, but there is also a tremendous opportunity for brands to go beyond the passive viewing of traditional TV ads to create targeted, personalised brand interactions with their audiences online.      

Paul is the UK Country Manager for YuMe and is responsible for driving revenue and growth across the UK.  Previous to joining YuMe he worked at Microsoft Advertising as Head of Mobile in the UK, and later ran the Emerging Platforms Team...

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