my turn


By Clusters, Millennials Reveal Media Quirks

Listening to data to is a bit like checking into a hospital. Sometimes you’re likely to be sicker when you come out than when you went in.

Yes, you can slice demographics more ways than a CAT scanner, and you can do it until you find something to treat. That said, I’ve spoken to enough marketers about their perceptions about their ideal consumer to get the strong feeling that a lot of target buyer identity is projecting the brand identity onto a fictional person. And that can result in a media strategy that isn’t too focused.

Take 18 to 35 year olds, which I am as guilty as anyone of throwing into a lumpen millennial, against whom advertisers are spending four times as much, or more, than any other category. But you can, and should, take a much more nuanced look. How? A million ways to do it.

I spoke with Max Knight, VP of global marketing science services at ad tech company Turn, about their take on millennials. It is based on new research that slices-and-dices media propensities and behavior, based on their data and third-party sources. It’s a bit over my head, but he explained that it is, broadly speaking, clustering analysis with third-party data on things like income, preferred TV shows, home ownership, active lifestyle cues, and tendency to do leisure travel.



The result is four clusters: “Struggling aspirants, “successful homeowners,” “active affluents” and “comfortable TV watchers,” the latter not to be confused with couch potatoes. “What stands out about them is that they ping positive for having lots of data around watching TV. That’s it. Yes, there can be overlap, especially if you look at income distribution.” And marketers tend to love them. Knight says, however, that they are only 8% of millennials. Fifty-seven percent are struggling aspirationals, 18% are successful homeowners and 17% are active affluents. The first group is fit, loves good food and likes bargains; the homeowners are the high-income group.

Knight says income levels for comfortable TV watchers and of active affluents are similar. “It’s that TV watchers have a lot more data around their TV habits.” It doesn’t say how much TV they are watching, to be clear, just that they are likely to have third-party data providers say they like watching, say, reality or comedy. “Data providers have picked upon that.”

Some takeaways from Turn data: the auto biz spends twice as much against “comfortable TV watchers” than on “successful homeowners.”

“My theory is that autos came out of being so focused on TV  that this inflects their marketing all the way through. They are describing the audiences the same way today. It’s all bringing it back to TV, which is biasing the spend to 8% of the millennials."

Packaged goods and food marketers are also spending relatively small amounts on active types with money. Video ad formats aren’t used enough with successful homeowners.

Travel is targeting comfy TV watchers, but should connect with active affluents, especially on mobile. The latter, per the data, can be targeted with ads for family friendly destinations, affordable vacation rentals, package tours, wilderness excursions, luxury getaways, and new culinary experiences.

Now you can get a second opinion.

1 comment about "By Clusters, Millennials Reveal Media Quirks".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 29, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.

    Karl, how did you determine that advertisers are spending four tmes more to reach "Millennials" than any other "category"---I assume this means demo? This certainly isn't true of magazines, radio, newspapers or TV. In the latter case, over 90% of the buys are "targeted" at adults, men or women aged 18-49 or 24-54. Of course you might say that the 18-34s are included in the broader age groupings---and that would be correct, however, even if you account for this, "Millennials", at best, might represent 25%-35% of the total spending----hardly four times the dollar weight laid in against adults aged 35-54, for example.

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