Speak the millennial language

Mobile pioneers known as millennials are now in their earnings prime, spending five hours per day on their phones and engaging directly with their favorite brands.

But reaching them has never been more difficult. Competition aside, here’s what brands are up against when it comes to marketing to millennials:

  • 50% avoid ads on websites; 47% avoid ads on mobile1
  • 38% of internet users have ad blockers installed1
  • The average click-through rate for a web display ad is 0.35%1

In the U.S., millennials represent 95 million souls between the ages of 24 and 38. They are mobile-first, research obsessed and increasingly impatient with a combined spend of $200 billion per year.2 97% own smartphones, which they interact with 88 times per day.3­­

Instant information, 24/7 support and media on demand are the expectation and not the exception for millennial consumers. The proof is in search. According to Google, mobile searches for “open” + “now” + “near me” have grown by over 200% in the last two years alone.4

Additional data from Google tells us:

  • 51% of smartphone users have purchased from a company or brand other than the one they intended to because the information provided was more useful.5
  • 73% of consumers say that regularly getting useful information from an advertiser is the most important attribute when selecting a brand.5
  • 69% of online consumers agree that the quality, timing and relevance of a company’s message influence their perception of a brand.5

Needless to say, brands who can satisfy the impulsive “need it now” behaviors of millennials are primed to win.

So how do you get there with ads?

Your campaign guide

Susannah Keller, Executive Vice President Global Account Director at BBDO, warns:

“It’s even more important now that media, creative and brand are sitting together at the beginning of the process because people are going to apps for very specific reasons. And we need to make sure that the content that we’re putting out there is delivering on the context of the app, that it’s entertaining, that it’s adding value to consumers’ experiences.”

Here are three things to keep in mind when marketing to millennials.

  1. Grant Control. 74% of consumers are more receptive to ads that are rewarding or allow them to control the elements of their experience. For example, consumers like ads that let you earn points, unlock exclusive content or provide an ad-free experience for a specific amount of time.3
  2. Go Native. Ensure that your ads match the look and feel of the content they appear next to. For example, 51% of people don’t mind when podcast ads are read by the host.3 Or think about the last time you heard a radio host read an ad on the radio. Did you find it less intrusive?
    Related post: How brand safety and bold creative mix
  3. Be Relevant. 58% of people are okay with ads as long as they are a sponsored post from someone they follow.3 Influencer posts or followed brands have an advantage here.

Personalization is also key. 55% are okay with ads personalized to their search or purchase history, and 62% of millennials say they’re more likely to become loyal customers if a brand engages with them on social networks.2

Be a brand that wins

Achieve this and you’ll soon find dedicated customers welcoming your ads, subscribing to your social channels, downloading your apps and opting in to your emails.

At Hearts & Science, we’re investing heavily in new research, methodologies and measurement to help our clients get their brand story in front of millennials in a mobile-first world. We call it Forces of Change and you can learn more about our research and insights here.


  1. Forrester.  The End of Advertising As We Know It.  May 02, 2017
  2. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/julesschroeder/2017/10/31/how-to-tap-into-the-millennial-200-billion-buying-power-with-social-media/#5c6c0ee61161
  3. Forces of Change. https://www.hearts-science.com/force/net-persuasion/
  4. Think with Google. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/purchase-journey-assistance
  5. Think with Google. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/data/eroding-brand-loyalty-information-2015/