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Understanding Millennial behavior

Understanding Millennial behavior Nanette Marcus

While habits of Millennials -- 18-34-year-olds -- vary, attendees at the iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Santa Barbara, California were given an in-depth look into the habits of a few University of California, Santa Barbara students.

Moderated by Brendan Moorcroft, co-founder and principal at UNBOUND, the group of students shared their online behavior and media consumption habits.

When asked about their morning media routines, Morgan Newman, an economics and psychology major, explained that he checks his mobile notifications and Instagram, where he has a carefully curated feed to reflect happy things like cute dogs. He noted that he consumes more than he shares and doesn't own a TV.

Erika Herrera, an economics student, starts off her day with a focus on business and saves the fun stuff for later. She also doesn't own a TV and streams all her content through her iPad.
Kortney Pham, an art, film and media student, is a part-time photographer and checks her email first thing to see if there are any business tasks or if her classes are cancelled. She tends to interact with her photography audience through Instagram.

The group explained how their habits change once the sun goes down. Newman limits his internet interactions during the day and blocks off more time at night to give more attention to what he wants to consume. Pham is more apt to soak in the content presented to her in her social feeds in the morning and then is more ready to interact with the digital world in the evening.

Moorcraft inquired about how the students find shows to watch.

Herrera looks for suggestions on Netflix. She was recently intrigued by Facebook ads with a trailer for "Stranger Things," which she appreciated because she won't go out of her way to search a new TV show. Newman uses Netflix sparingly, although he does like the original content there. He watches movies on streaming websites and admits to torrenting some content. Pham doesn't go out of her way to find shows to watch and relies on word-of-mouth and ratings to determine what she'll watch next.

As for staying up to date with news, Herrera relies on the New York Times and the Economist, mainly because of her major, but she also relies on Facebook's trending topics and Reddit. Pham uses Snapchat's suggested stories section, as well as Facebook articles in her feed from pages she's liked. Newman admits that he used to read more news until he realized that it was taking up a lot of time. Now he goes out of his way to not consume content of that nature and is more focused on stuff related to his schooling.

The group is pragmatic when it comes to their privacy and how their data is being used. Herrara noted, "I feel like it's just going to happen either way." She knows her information is going to be found somehow, so she might as well let companies use it if it's the kind of information that results in better recommendations for the content she consumes. Pham also doesn't mind, if data is used in a good way. Newman is a little more private than his peers. He tries not to share posts related to his feelings. He does like personalized ads, like an ad on Instagram for a new banking app. He appreciated its relevance, and after researching to make sure it was FDIC approved and a legit company, he downloaded the free app.

When Moorcraft asked how much time the students spend with media on an average day, Herrara explained that it felt like an outdated question. "I feel like I'm always online. Even when I'm not physically online, I'm always getting notifications."

Newman said he's online 95 percent of the day. "I'm not always on social media, but if I get a text from a girl I like, I'll reply immediately. If I'm hanging out with people, I typically try to stay engaged. I'm always connected. I probably spend an average of an hour consuming silly media."

Moorcraft inquired about thoughts on ads they're served.

Newman said that he's very aware that a lot of the people he follows online are putting out subtle advertising, like wearing Club Monaco clothing that's out of his current price range as a student, but something he'll keep in mind when he graduates. "If it appeals to me, I don't mind it," he said.

Herrara noted that she just expects advertisers to know what she does and doesn't like. "Sometimes I online shop and can't find something I want, but then an ad pops up on the side later on with exactly what I wanted, and that's great."

Nanette is iMedia Communications' executive editor.   In addition to her roles at iMedia, Nanette has served as a specialist in content marketing, editorial content, public relations and social media for various clients. She's contributed to...

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