Thursday, February 27, 2014

Millennials Are Transforming Marketing Itself

I was feeling pretty impressed with myself after reading a new report detailing the digital platform habits of various age cohorts.  I am closer to Millennials (ages 18-34) than I am to Baby Boomers, my age group.

Then I looked at a map of the recording artists who are most popular in each state and realized that I was only familiar with a dozen or so.

From the song at this link, an R&B throwback, I can see why Miguel is most popular in North Carolina where I live.  I can also see why Tegan and Sara are popular in my native Idaho, but I obviously need to get out from behind this blog more.

It is among the 77 million Millennials, which, with 24% of population are already generating $1.3 trillion in direct spending each year, that you can most clearly see the death knell for advertising, an element of marketing.

In fact, according to the formidable Boston Consulting Group, Millennials are transforming marketing as much as they are altering consumer behavior.

They have expectations of reciprocity.  They are repulsed by desecration marketing such as roadside billboards as well as thinly veiled retro Jim Crow laws promoted in some states against Gays, people of color and young people.

According to Nielsen, nearly 4-in-10 Millennials are not US-born.  The same proportion have become bilingual.  Only half as many are married as Baby Boomers were by that point, but nearly twice that percentage of Millennial women have children. Marketing to Millennials

Millennials now make up 1-in-5 same-sex couples and a greater percentage have graduated from college than other generations.

A Pew report shows that a greater share Millennials live both in suburbs and central cities than either Boomers or the Silent generation did at that point.

This may also mean the suburbs aren’t dead and that rejuvenated downtowns across the country may eventually see another bust cycle as this generation ages.

A new report by comScore shows just how much more likely Millennials are to skips ads altogether on television including 90% while watching recorded TV.  Their shift to online news is driving a dramatic decline in audience for local television news, where ad revenues have typically made up 48% station revenue.

They lean heavily toward digital channels and marketers simply have to take another approach to reach this generation.

Nielson reports that those still advertising on television are rapidly shifting from 30-second spots to 15-second spots.  Partially, the thinking is that because Millennials have a strong preference for video that the challenge is mastering ads as short-form video.

Even that isn’t likely to be enough but they could go a lot shorter.  Research shows that even for those who watch television ads, the typical viewer pays attention for only 6.5 seconds.

The problem isn’t the length of the ads or how compelling they may or may not be.  The inherent problem with advertising is that even in story form, it is a form of yelling, the advertiser yelling about themselves.

Because this especially turns them off, Millennials prefer to seek information on other platforms but it is just with this generation that an overall shift is most apparent.

Businesses that rely on advertising in any form have so inundated the marketplace that the average person is bombarded with 10,000 messages a day.  People have just tuned out, thank you.

Worse, advertising has become so ubiquitous that not only do studies show it with a negative return on investment but that it also dulls our sense of empathy.

Millennials, in particular, have discovered many more effective ways to glean information including content marketing and old-fashioned earned media, otherwise known as news stories.

Of course, advertising is a huge industrial complex that knows only one behavior: more, more, more.  The reports I’ve cited in this blog are meant to be reassuring about the future of advertising but the sense of desperation is clear.

Even if things do come full circle as this paper suggests by showing us how the Internet could eventually make media physical again, it isn’t clear that the advertising industry can ever learn restraint.

More convincing are webinars and related downloads regarding the massive shift to content marketing, such as the one at this link by Adobe with six steps to building a content marketing strategy.  The speaker makes it clear “that it is no longer about more.”

Nearly 9-in-10 marketers have shifted to branded content for marketing to consumers, slightly more use it for business to business marketing and more than 7-in-10 think it is more effective than advertising.

Content marketing can involve as many as 16 different tactics with 12 being the average.  Content marketing isn’t new, but just referred to now by an overarching terminology.

The organizations I previously led were utilizing ten or more of these tactics throughout much of my now concluded, four-decade career in community marketing.

The prominence of content marketing began as early as 1984 as the effectiveness of advertising slipped into its long slow decline.  It accelerated as advertising fell to a negative return on investment overall a few years ago.

Unfortunately, many marketers were slow to make the shift, as noted in the white paper entitled, “Turbulent Times for the CMO.”  Content marketing, according to analyst Robert Rose, is no longer about acting like a media company but becoming a media company.

It is also about not yelling.  It’s not about more.  It’s about authenticity.

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