In a world where it is claimed that only 1% of advertising is compelling for millennials, and the consumption of media is accepted to be shifting from traditional linear methods to immersive, multi-platform and continuous methods, it is clear that a digital economy for a new generation is emerging.
Luth Research claims millennials spend 54% of their digital screen time on their smartphones, 27% on their tablets and 18% on their computer – providing many platforms where organisations can engage with this demographic.
As a millennial myself, I see this not as a dry cut shift from old to new, but an opportunity for discussion, an opportunity for my generation to contribute and ultimately drive innovation in how we interact with digital.
Using Pew Research’s millennial age group of being born between 1981 and 1996, it is no longer the people of tomorrow businesses need to be aware of, but the leaders of today. Advertising has changed from single-media, such as the Yellow Pages TV-only fly-fishing advert from the 1980s with fictional author JR Hartley, to integrated multi-channel campaigns providing a consistent user experience across media platforms, social media and real-world promotion.
A fascinating example of this shift is the virtualization of radio. I was privileged to hear Joe Harland, Head of Visual Radio at the BBC, speak at the Westminster Media Forum panel discussion: Media for the Millennials: youth audience insights, content innovation and strategic priorities. Harland described the need to keep the original feel of the radio being a community activity, but bring it into the digital era.
And how is that done? Extend the frequency, reach and content to be at the fingertips of millennials no matter where they are. Millennials expect content to be available on their time scale, and virtualizing shows, by providing exclusive videos, original posts and live streaming enables Radio 1 and 1Xtra to remain relevant to the millennial audience.
A second fantastic example of adapting to the digital economy and engaging with millennials has to be that of MTV. Their recent brand shift to an inclusive MTV involving the audience shows a real change in how media is consumed – even traditional, previously linear television needs to come on the digital journey.
With the introduction of MTV Bump, where viewers record and send in short videos which can then be aired, the audience become a part of the brand and the distinction between digital, media and reality becomes ever more blurred. Kerry Taylor of Viacom spoke passionately at the Westminster Media Forum: Media for the Millennials about the need for TV brands to continue to evolve, and recognize that television is consumed via multiple devices and platform.
Taylor noted that with the change of TV consumption, control has moved from broadcasters to viewers, hence MTV putting the brand in the control of their viewers with MTV Canvas, a digital animated sticker book to create short videos of how you see MTV.
The need for these kinds of campaigns, comes from content needing to be a social series; where the story continues online after the TV show, hence realizing the blurred boundaries and creating truly immersive experiences for the viewer. I’ve even had a go myself – find my #MTVBump here and Tweet me your creation.
So why aren’t more companies doing this? What are we missing? There is not a clear cut, tested academic formula to follow for this, and purely copying or imitating another’s success is never going to provide the same scale of results.
And that is because millennials want innovation. Once we’ve seen one way of digital interaction, we’re immediately seeking the next iteration! So it all comes back to the age-old notion of agile businesses and enabling your workforce to create interactive content in response to topical debates.
The immediacy of reaction particularly resonates with this audience, as Harland notes – expected reaction times to topical debates have fallen rapidly for millennials, and they expect to see something within 24 hours, otherwise it becomes irrelevant.
Some companies are already doing this. A great example mentioned by Jeremy Brown, Founder and CEO of Sense WorldWide at the Westminster Media Forum, is PepsiCo. They have created a panel of millennials who advise the Board to ensure the brand continues to be appealing to my generation, and recommend innovative ideas for engagement.
This network of millennials ready to contribute to organisations really brings to life the need for constant experimentation, finding the perfect equilibrium between innovation and risk. The future is bright…and full of millennials!