Making the Case for Millennials and TV
20 January 2017 • tvsquared

During a Q&A at Industry Preview, NBCU said that it cut the number of ads running during SNL by 30%. At first glance, this could be considered bad news for TV advertising, but I don’t see it that way (and neither does NBCU). SNL’s viewership skews young, and knowing what we do about Millennials, a smaller number of ads keep them happy and, if done right, they can be incredibly powerful. I think it’s a brilliant strategy.

There’s the perception that Millennials have abandoned traditional TV for digital, and that simply isn’t true. For advertisers, writing off TV for them is a mistake. Instead, they need to leverage TV’s scale to better reach Millennials with relevant, action-oriented messages that will drive response – especially via mobile.

Not convinced? With all the headlines about digital proliferation and ad spend, I can understand, but hear me out:

  • Millennials DO watch traditional TV: Millennials consume media in vastly different ways vs. older generations, but despite this fragmentation, they still watch an average of 2:33 hours of non-digital TV per day. This time only increases as they age and/or start families. By not using TV, you’re missing out on 17+ hours a week – or about 10% of a Millennial’s day.
  • Millennials trust TV: The rise of digital hasn’t hurt Millennials’ trust in TV either. Nielsen’s Global Trust Survey ranked TV ads as one of the most trustworthy sources among consumers – even Millennials.
  • Millennials are the top smartphone users: What does this have to do with TV? A lot. As a mobile-adept generation, it’s not surprising that Millennials are the population’s largest group of smartphone users (18-24: 98%; 25-34: 97%).
  • But they’re savvy ad blockers: The mobile generation is especially good at ad blocking. During his keynote at Industry Preview, Geoff Ramsey of eMarketer said that 43% of Millennials use ad blockers. And with 50% of display ads never even seen, it can be a challenge to reach Millennials through digital alone.
  • TV drives response: 87% of viewers watch TV with a second-screen device in-hand or nearby. While this stat is not Millennial-focused, it’s safe to say, given their mobile proclivity, that it could be much higher. With connected devices so close, you can see how TV, driving awareness, leads to quick mobile response. And this isn’t just speculation. Studies have found TV to be one of the top (if not THE top) driver for search activity, site visits and app downloads.

As consumers, Millennials encompass a broad range of wants, needs and media preferences based on their age, family status and income. They crave authenticity, consistency and experiences, and jump from device-to-device and channel-to-channel frequently and with ease. In many ways, they are marketers’ worst nightmares!

Millennials live in a cross-device, cross-channel world, and advertisers have to innovate to effectively engage them. And while the answer is not so cut-and-dry, complementary media strategies are part of the solution.

I’ve read too many articles and heard too many talks claiming that the link between TV and Millennials is dead. But the data doesn’t back it up! TV plays a significant part in Millennials’ lives – and it will likely be an evolving relationship for years to come.