As Millennials age up, their media habits are slowly moving towards more passive forms of content such as viewing livestream video on social, listening to music and podcasts and watching their favorite gamers in esports. Audiences are distributed hundreds of pieces of content per day, based on platform aglorithms personalized to their habits and affinities. As this demographic shifts from active to passive online behaviors, brands need to rethink how and where they’re connecting with Millennials. Below are the rapidly growing channels brands should consider and how others have executed in the space.
1. Livestream video: The livestream video function on Instagram and Facebook is rapidly growing with over 30% of the Millennials engaging with this medium in 2017 and the number is predicted to grow to 46% by 2022. (Foresight Factory) In September 2018, Twitter announced a new audio-only broadcast feature, akin to a radio format, this feature will be distributed broadly over the next year. Brands have been leveraging livestream in creative ways. Dunkin Donuts recently used Instagram’s Live video feature to show behind the scenes content of how donuts are made, over 44K people tuned in. (Dunkin Donuts video) While this format provides a blank canvas for brand activations, it’s important to pay attention to video quality, as 67% of millennials said it is the more important factor when watching livestream broadcasts. (Vimeo)
2. Podcasts: In 2017, the US podcasting industry made $314 million in advertising revenue, which was an 86% increase from 2016. This is predicted to grow to $659 million by 2020, a triple digit spike. (Social Media Week) What’s driving this boom? Consumption of podcasts and audiobooks has skyrocketed. Almost 50% of listeners are under the age of 35, with 42% of Millennial podcast followers listening at least once a week. (Edison Research, Forbes) Millennials love podcasts for a multitude of reasons: they cover fascinating, trending topics like true crime and politics in an easy-to-download, on-demand format. Brands have jumped on the bandwagon in two main ways. One is to start their own podcast like Inside Trader Joe’s, which discusses all the things customers love about the store and an inside scoop on why they stock what they do. Or the more common way to engage is advertising – brands are strategically sponsoring podcasts where there is an authentic tie between the podcasts host, the brand and in the interests of their target audiences. Chrysler has partnered with Armchair Expert, hosted by Dax Shepard, who talks at length about growing up in Detroit and being a gearhead, making him an ideal fit for the brand. Like Chrysler, when brands look to engage podcasts, go as niche and targeted as possible to garner the most ROI.
3. Music Streaming Services: There are a plethora of popular music streaming services vying for Millennials and Gen Z’s attention. While Spotify had a nearly seven-year-long head start, Apple Music has surpassed Spotify for paid users as of July 2018. Google is now aggressively pursuing a similar strategy with YouTube Music, and Amazon is pushing its Amazon Music Unlimited offering. Brands are largely using these platforms for advertising efforts, including audio, video, immersive overlay and sponsored playlists. (PR News) Wendy’s took an innovative approach to leveraging these streaming platforms – they dropped a Mixtape on Spotify called “We Beefin?” and it received widespread media coverage and social buzz. (We Beefin Mixtape) One of the more unique ways for brands to engage with Spotify is their “Branded Moments,” which allow companies to target users based on the music ‘mood’ they’re currently listening to. Videos geared towards those moods (like dinner time, working out or partying) play before users continue listening to music.
4. eSports: Esports generated $696 million in revenue in 2017 of which $517 million was brand spending. This booming trend in gaming is especially popular with millennial males, with the majority of viewership between ages 13-40 and about 70% male. (Nielsen) Traditionally, this group has been difficult for brands to target with traditional advertising methods because they spend minimal time watching TV and are less engaged with ecommerce. 6.6 billion hours have been spent watching esports globally this year, a 175% increase from last year. (Statista) Brands have multiple opportunities to integrate their messaging in esports such as brand partnerships, broadcasting tournaments and content creation for esports fans. (The eSports Observer) Brands such as Adidas and Mountain Dew have sponsored esports teams; however, the esports industry has cautioned that brands must integrate themselves authentically into this highly engaged community and truly understand the themes of the space at large. Failure to do so, can result in the community turning against the brand. There are tremendous benefits by tapping into this vocal community, but a tactical strategy must be implemented to do so.
At Edelman, we take a consumer first approach to marketing. We deeply understand audiences’ behaviors and partner with brands to implement a strategy to achieve their goals. As media evolves and the manner in which millennials and other audiences’ content consumption habit transform, we work with our creative teams to come up with new ways to ignite engagement amongst those groups.
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