Millennials Unimpressed by Content Marketing, Yet Willing to Be Won Over

By Gabe Rosenberg July 14th, 2014

To some, millennials are entitled and expect to be given the world; to others, we are a tolerant group that just wants to change the world. But to marketers, millennials are the holy grail of potential consumers: those with nearly an entire lifetime of buying power ahead of them. According to a 2013 Yahoo Content Marketing Ingestion Study, millennials will have $1.4 trillion of spending power in the US by 2020.

The problem: Marketers still don’t know how to court them. To try to determine what creative tactics and marketing principles should be used to create enjoyable, shareable content for millennials, Yahoo and Tumblr partnered with Razorfish and Digitas to conduct a study of 15,000 respondents aged 18–34.

The big takeaway? Millennials aren’t impressed, by and large, with the content that brands are lobbing their way. Forty-five percent of respondents reported that they don’t usually find content marketing compelling enough to share.

This stat meshes with what Contently found in its recent study on how consumers feel about the brand-sponsored content that runs on publisher sites. Our report didn’t focus heavily on millennials, but we did find that millennials are nearly as skeptical of sponsored content as older age groups: 48 percent of respondents between the ages of 18–29 simply do not trust sponsored content; 67 percent are not likely to click on an article sponsored by a brand; and 56 percent would rather have banner ads than sponsored articles on their favorite news sites.

Graphs showing Millennials’ attitudes towards branded content

But that doesn’t mean that millennials aren’t willing to be won over. Yahoo found that millennials are willing to watch native videos (79 percent) and (slightly less likely) to share them (51 percent), as long as they are relevant to the digital environment in which they appear.

“Millennials are willing to share good advertising, but dislike when advertising feels deceptive,” Yahoo writes. Millennials don’t like feeling that they are being misled—and we learned in our survey that 62 percent felt deceived upon realizing an article or video was sponsored by a brand.

The Yahoo study also asked millennials what they want from their content. Millennials report wanting to become more well-informed (75 percent) and are interested in learning in-depth about specific topics (76 percent). They were also asked what kind of branded content works for them on social, and their responses sound like a game of Marketing Buzzword Bingo: brief, entertaining, funny, fresh, unique, informative, and relevant.

They also want multimedia content that’s available across multiple platforms: 77 percent of those surveyed want to connect to news on all of their devices, and 55 percent watch videos on different devices several times a day.

The big takeaway here is that millennials want to be immersed in high-quality, entertaining content—72 percent even said they “tend to find themselves lost in a vortex of entertainment.” That may sound like the makings of a horror movie, but it actually means that there are plenty of opportunities to put quality, engaging content in front of millennials—as well as consumers at large, as Contently Editor-in-Chief Joe Lazauskas wrote this past Friday. They’re ready to click and share; just give them something worthy of those actions. What’s out there right now is just not up to snuff.

Contently arms brands with the tools and talent to become great content creators. Learn more.

Image by AP Images
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