Just How Much Do Millennials Drive the Online Engine?

Earlier this month, comScore released its “Marketing to Millennials” report that in many ways showed the awesome power of that 18-34 age group, and how it differs from the larger public.

But reading through the report, it seemed that some of the differences are a little thin. I wonder if it’s just because I want to be contrary.

There are some flat out awesome stats, though, many of which were covered earlier by MediaPost: Nearly one in five millennials only use a smartphone—no laptop, no desk computer.  And in November, which is the frame of time this study looked at, they spent the equivalent of four full days—96 hours—online on all types of devices. That’s a lot.

The report also stresses how many more ad impressions millennials see in a month—that’s their take on the figure--- and here, I’m surprised that the disparity between millennials and everybody else isn’t much, much larger.

Look at this: Millennials, as noted, spent 96 hours online in November. Users aged 35-54 spent 87 hours and consumers 55+ spent just a little under 59 hours.

In that time, millennials saw 2,311 ad impressions. But in nine fewer hours, users aged 35-54 saw 2,212—just 99 fewer ads than the much-targeted millennials. And users 55 and older, who were online just 40% less than millennials, saw 1,803 ad impressions.

It seems, in short, that the only real difference between millennials and everybody else is that more of them are online one way or the other, not that they are being particularly better engaged than other age groups. They are easier to get online, and well, advertisers get them.

The comScore report notes: “In terms of desktop-based display advertising, the average reach of millennials among the Top 25 U.S. Web properties is 27.9%, higher than for 35-54 year olds (27.3%) and 55+ year olds (25.4%).”

Again, that doesn’t seem to be extraordinarily out of sight. But maybe I’m reading wrong.

It’s clear that when it comes to social media, millennials are not on the same page as everybody else. In fact, they’re on several pages.

Yes, 91% have Facebook accounts, but 46% spend time on Instagram, 39% on Twitter, 27% on LinkedIn, and 17% on Snapchat among seven social sites comScore scouted.

Whereas, consumers 35-54 only heavily used four social sites much: Facebook (85%), LinkedIn (33%), Twitter (32%) and Instagram (27%).

People 55+ pretty much stick with Facebook (89%) and LinkedIn (32%)—and that LinkedIn figure seems to me to be an indication that for many older Americans, the recession is still in full force.

Here’s another stunning fact about Facebook. Despite using lots of different social media sources, millennials spend 76% of their social time minutes on Facebook, despite what they say.

For the other age groups, it’s even more out of kilter—they spend an incredible 9 out of 10 minutes on Facebook when they feel like being social.

Those stats aside, a lot of comScore’s survey suggests to me that while millennials set the online table, the users 35 to 54 are pretty robust consumers just about as reachable as younger people. They follow well. But, again, maybe that’s just me.             

In its conclusion, comScore says: “Whether it’s millennials’ heavy digital media usage, unique smartphone preferences, fragmented social activity, selective TV viewing, or ease of digital targeting, there is nothing typical about how this generation consumes media. As they advance in age and influence, their rips in the fabric of the traditional media establishment will only become more pronounced. It’s time to take this group seriously as the huge marketing threat — and opportunity — it represents. Marketers who lay the right groundwork for effectively communicating with this audience.”

 pj@mediapost.com

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2 comments about "Just How Much Do Millennials Drive the Online Engine?".
  1. Tom Francoeur from Communispace , February 13, 2014 at 4:07 p.m.
    I agree. Differences are not that dramatic. And I think much of the difference can be attributed to life stage, rather than being Millennials. Cory wrote a nice piece looking at it from the life stage angle: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/218900/talkin-bout-my-generation-using-social-media.html
  2. James Bishop from B-to-B Digital Media LLC , February 14, 2014 at 9:22 a.m.
    I'm impressed/concerned with the AVERAGE user time online... 720 Hours in November -180 Hours sleeping (avg. 6hrs/night) ------ 540 Hours Awake -96 Hours Online ------ 18% of Awake Time is Spent Online. Is that good or bad? "Look at this: Millennials, as noted, spent 96 hours online in November. Users aged 35-54 spent 87 hours and consumers 55+ spent just a little under 59 hours." My two cents...