This is something that has come up in several of my courses recently: how do advertisers best reach Millennials? The answer is very simple, but not particularly easy for companies to pull off: be authentic. But what does this even mean?
Millennials, like everyone in 2015, are used to being bombarded from all sides by various advertisements.
-Try us now! Switch to our product! We promise to care about you, really we do!-
But as the first generation of ‘digital natives’, we’re also used to what was once an advertisement-free medium. The same has been true for all Social Media networks: over the years, social media channels have included increasing amounts of advertisement. now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this. Social Media platforms, like all businesses, need to make a profit. And I don’t even really have a problem with the advertisement itself….the format is more significant.
Millennials are used to the promotions, so we tend to glance past them, or grumble as they interfere with what used to be ‘virgin’ space (think YouTube pre-video ads that take ages to buffer). Such interference can cause negative reactions, hurting a brand rather than helping it.
Some companies have turned towards making their content more organic. This can be achieved through a variety of ways, but ultimately results in the final promotion being less polished than something which would appear in a magazine or on TV. But that doesn’t really help matters, because Millennials can see through that as well.
What does work, is authentic advertising. Millennials are a very integrative group – we try to blend together all parts of our lives. So, the best method is to integrate advertising into actions that Millennials already take. But what does that look like? I think Bud Lite is doing a fantastic job of this on Tinder. Tinder is a location-based dating app which has growing popularity among Millennials. It features pictures of singles around you, and the option to swipe left or right on the image: left to reject, right if interested. Bud Lite has begun including promotions in the middle of Tinder matches. Such a placement may show college students partying with the caption (and large arrow) ‘Swipe right to enter the xxxx sweepstakes!’ This is brilliant, and highly effective. It doe not feel intrusive, and also appeals to the swiper’s self-interest. There’s nothing about this ad that is distracting or inhibiting (the polar opposite of on-page pop-up ads).
Millennials aren’t looking for companies to pretend to be something they’re not – we’re perfectly ok with the profit motive. But what we are looking for is an advertisement to do what the product ultimately should: fit within and enhance our lives.