5 Lessons Learned From The Front Line

There is no doubt that 2009 was a fierce battleground for online marketers to reach the hearts and minds of Generation Y. Between the economic downturn, the proliferation of new media and blogs and the explosive growth of social networking sites, advertisers were challenged like never before to reach millennials and do it with the tightest marketing budgets seen in years. Many marketers, such as Vitaminwater, launched great campaigns and won, while others barely made it off the battlefield.

As we head into 2010, we expect to see these five trends, based upon findings from our editorial team, market research and insights gleaned from our advertisers.

1. A genuine approach to participatory marketing. 2009 seemed to be the year of the interactive quiz, poll or contest. Bloggers embraced the advertorial and marketers measured "engagement" as people checked the box or clicked the poll. But that doesn't mean it translated into consumers talking about the brand. The best incentives for Gen Y are ones that align with their core values, such as Pepsi's Refresh Project. In 2010, marketers and publishers will build more long term, participatory marketing campaigns that deliver an emotional connection to the brand and Gen Y's values.



2. Video will become integral to ad campaigns as it becomes more affordable and attainable. Video views have increased 26% year over year since 2008, per Nielsen. Given its increasing popularity, online video has become a must-have for every publisher. However, as the cost of entry gets lower, video will become more commoditized, and publishers will need to develop more sophisticated solutions for brands and audiences alike. Marketers will begin to spend more time looking at content alignment and the industry will begin to evolve from pre-roll. In 2010, online publishers will deliver more affordable options against branded content and integrations.

3. The blogosphere will become more cluttered; leading consumers back to credentialed sources. Of course, Gen Y will continue to read blogs -- but research shows that credibility of the source will play a bigger part. Brands need to understand what sites their ads appear on and associate only with credible sources.

4. Mobile internet access will change the way people shop. 83% of adults have cell phones or smartphones and among them, 35% have accessed the Internet via their phones -- and Gen Y IS the most active group of mobile users. Retailers need to start thinking about mobile beyond just a link to their site and deliver ease in mobile purchasing along with local, drive-to-store incentives.

5. Consumers will look for tools and "short cuts" that ease their day-to-day lives. Gen Yers are overextended and rushed for time. Marketers who create practical tools and resources that make their lives easier will have better opportunities to connect this audience with their brand. Facebook Connect made its users' lives easier by giving them one more reason to stick around. Marketers need to think about where their audience is and fit into their world versus trying to pull them in another direction. It's not about driving to a brand site -- it's about delivering an experience in what feels like an organic environment.

Over the coming months, we will continue to track these trends and provide insight into best practices. We expect it will continue to be a battle this year to reach Gen Y and marketers must continually find fresh ways to develop a better, more relevant experience. With this generation, it's about trial and error -- there is no easy path to success but it is essential to try or your brand may not survive to see the next generation.

2 comments about "5 Lessons Learned From The Front Line ".
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  1. Nelson Yuen from Stereotypical Mid Sized Services Corp., January 29, 2010 at 1:12 p.m.

    I think these lessons bring us full circle with the real definition of brand & brand equity - the logos, mascots, gimmicks, and icons aren't branding. It's how the public feels about them/us. Blogs, social media, and participatory conversations that engage audiences (and Gen Y especially) happen on and offline. Our marketing objectives and branding objectives need to exercise these "5 lessons" with the intent to be more genuine and responsive to HOW the audiences feel about US as marketers; rather than trying to coerce them to convert in some way shape or form. Forgetting about the end result of a branding objective, first understand HOW the audience feels about us, and what the positive outcome is to catering to the consumer and putting their needs first transparently.

  2. John Ryckman from Impulse TV Network Ltd., January 29, 2010 at 2:31 p.m.

    Interesting insight.

    The future is about being "relevant" to your audience. The logo, the recognition, the exposure are the background. Engaging the target audience in a way that has relevance, in a way that matters to them, is the key. Allowing Gen Y to "vote" there opinions and beliefs into something that is real like the Pepsi Refresh campaign is brilliant, it is engaging and empowering.

    Thanks Kristen for some insight into a great campaign strategy.

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