Millennials Saying Meh: Plumbing The Generational Divide Over Video, Metrics

A few years ago, brands like IHOP got caught using millennial-friendly lingo in their social media post. Some wag founded a Twitter feed called “Brands Saying Bae” that preserved their efforts for future generations.

It’s easy to shake our heads about such ham-handed marketing attempts. But then again what oldster hasn’t attempted to curry favor with a millennial only to be rebuffed (in that polite millennial way) for the attempt?

We recently looked into the contrasting views of agency execs under 30 versus their elder counterparts and found a similar dynamic. While older execs seem giddy about measurement and video advertising, millennials seem to roll their eyes and say, “Sorry not sorry.” For this industry, this Gen Y jadedness might be a worrying sign. Then again, it might just reflect a hard-to-impress mindset.



On video: I can’t even

In one striking instance, 84% of survey respondents overall said that video was the most effective means for getting a client’s message across. But some 56% of younger execs said they thought there were more effective ways to advertise than video. 

One explanation may be that younger execs grew up with video. For instance, a 27-year-old exec was 15 when YouTube came out. It may also be that younger people are more focused on social media marketing and content marketing and view video as merely an extension of TV advertising, which isn’t as interesting to them. They may also be looking ahead to opportunities like VR, 360 video and Snapchat and see digital video as a bit passé. 

On metrics: The struggle is real

The report shows a similar divide regarding metrics. Under-30s are generally untroubled about fraud and viewability. Some 76% consider ad fraud a “less than crucial concern” and millennial execs have adopted viewability measurement tools at a rate that’s one-third less than their older counterparts. Finally, 57% of under-30s “do not wholly trust” the metrics of the moment. 

To recap: millennial execs generally trust media companies to provide solid inventory, but most distrust metrics.

What to make of this? It’s possible that younger execs have always dealt with metrics and are taking a more holistic view. Good ads may be more important to them than viewability. This may be a reflection of having gotten too immersed in metrics in the past only to find that they were contradictory and confusing. 

Tfw* generations and goals collide

Another interpretation of the findings is that direct-response marketers are at odds with brand marketers. They have different goals, of course. DR marketers are thrilled that they can add clickable calls to their video ads. Brand-focused marketers may think that getting too caught up in metrics is a waste of time and energy. 

If not, these findings may be an indication that millennials will be taking digital marketing in a new direction, one that looks a bit like the old days when marketing was more about big campaigns than micro-targeted moments. And that would be on fleek.

*Boomer editor’s note: Tfw means “That feeling when.”

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