Members of Gen Y grew up with the Internet and mobile phones as a given. They see continuous connectivity as their right — there for them any place, anytime. Their media viewing habits are no different: They expect access to content whenever they want it, delivered to any screen they choose.
We all remember how our parents chided us for watching too much TV. Well, guess what? Gen X, Baby Boomers and older generations watch more TV than Gen Y (and especially 18- to 24-year-olds). What they should have told us was to consume less media. A recent study by CrowdTap and Ipsos Media showed that Millennials were engaged with media for 18 hours a day, very often using multiple devices at once (hence the large number of hours — watching TV and being on a smartphone simultaneously for an hour equaled two hours of media consumption).
Different from even 10 years ago, today’s video consumption doesn’t require a television; any size screen will do, especially if it’s portable. Sure, Gen Y still watches a lot of TV (~3 hours a day) or at least has the television on, even if they are busy paying attention to other devices. And the television still has an advantage over other devices (computer, tablet, smartphone) with screen size, multi-viewer watching and generally comfortable and relaxed viewing. What it doesn’t give you, or gives you less of, is shareability — a more customized experience and anytime access.
So Millennials continue to watch TV. According to Verizon, 87% subscribe to pay TV, just a few percentage points lower than Gen X and Boomers. Various sources state that Gen Y television viewing accounts for 25-40% of their overall consumption, which seems to be holding steady. This is in part thanks to TV programming providers stepping up and addressing the trends in Millennial consumption — expanded VOD libraries, DVRs and on-the-go streaming.
As you might imagine, most of the TV viewing happens from 6 p.m. to midnight. Online video shines, relative to TV and mobile, during noon to 5 p.m. (Shouldn’t you be working then?), while mobile video viewing is pretty steady during the day, usually taking second place to online during the afternoon and to TV at night.
The mobility factor is causing the rise in viewing for Gen Y, and apps are where it’s taking place. Most of the smartphone media consumption takes place through an app (89%) versus the mobile Web (11%). Tablet usage is slightly lower for apps (81%) compared to the mobile Web (19%).
Digital is the path to Millennial brand engagement and dollars. They recall brand advertising much better when delivered on a smartphone or tablet. So given this unstoppable shift to mobilization, how are marketers evolving their strategies? Nielsen will help us figure this out with its move to incorporate smartphone and tablet ratings with that of TV. Online media companies continue to try to persuade brands to shift more of their traditional TV ad dollars into digital via IAB’s NewFronts (Vevo will be one of the first to do that in May).
Getting more digital ad dollars in the outlets where Millennials hang out seems a no-brainer, but the move away from TV is slow, even though producing ads for television is expensive compared to digital outlets. It takes time to turn a big ship, but sooner, rather than later, the digital ad money will come.