When developing your strategy for advertising to millennials—especially young millennials (born after 1993)—mobile ads should be the core pillar, not an afterthought. While it’s true that consumers of all ages are using mobile as an integral part of the shopping process, young millennials are the first group to enter the US workforce having come of age in a world where smartphones and tablets are more common than wristwatches. As such, they have a uniquely intimate relationship with mobile devices and social networking.
FunMobility recently conducted a market research study on these individuals, ages 14-21, mapping mobile behaviors and advertising preferences.
(note: this study was limited to the United States, with most survey responses coming from individuals in suburban areas)
Advertising to Millennials—Life Revolves Around The iPhone
Respondents overwhelmingly cited smartphones as their primary device (66%), with apple devices the most popular option (78%). Tablets, requiring greater disposable income and serving a more relaxed lifestyle, were by far the least popular type of device–favored by only 1% of those surveyed.
For anyone who’s stepped outside in the past few years and actually looked at what teenagers are doing, this isn’t much of a surprise.
What was surprising was the sheer amount of time young millennials reported using their smartphones. The average respondent uses their smartphone between 2-5 hours per day, with more than a third (36%) engaging with their phones more than 5 hours every day–roughly a third of their waking hours. Only 4% use their smartphones less than 2 hours per day.
This supports recent research from SDL, which reported that younger U.S. consumers use their smartphones an average of 43 times every day.
In other words, if you want your ads to be seen by young millennials, you’d better be serving those ads on an iPhone.
More Likely to Engage With Mobile Ads
When asked how they would like to receive advertising from brands they like, mobile dominated once again. Of the majority who primarily use smartphones, 80% cited mobile ads as their preferred form of advertising. Compare this to the small segment that still primarily uses desktop, who were most likely to cite television ads as their preferred advertising medium (38%)—not desktop ads.
Though young millennials love mobile apps as a whole–most mobile hours are spent on social and multimedia apps–branded apps designed to be a part of the shopping experience were extremely unpopular. 73% of those surveyed reported “rarely or never” using branded apps to help them shop.
In contrast, 47% said they’d consciously made a purchase in the past six months after viewing a mobile ad. A small percentage (3%) even reported averaging more than one purchase every month after viewing a mobile ad.
Young millennials are also quite fond of mobile coupons. 49% said they “like or love” coupons on their mobile device, and 37% reported sharing coupons to social sites in the past 6 months.
When it comes to sharing personal information with advertisers, young millennials are also far more amenable than the general population. Research from PunchTab and SDL backs this up, reporting that 50% of young millennials are willing to provide their mobile number to advertisers in return for more relevant geo-targeted ads or SMS programs (note that it is now a simple matter to create mobile ad campaigns that collect consumer phone numbers for exactly this purpose).
And, compared to the average consumer, young millennials are 7x more likely to provide personal information to a trusted brand.
Banner Ads & Videos Dominate
Though the mobile banner ad sometimes gets a bad rap for being less engaging than newer, more innovative ad formats, the IAB standard banner is not only a cost-effective solution, but a popular one with young consumers. Of all the different types of mobile ads available, 59% of female respondents listed the mobile banner ad as their preferred advertising format–more than twice as popular as anything else.
For males, mobile video ads ruled the day, claiming 51% of the vote.
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Shocking Development: Young Women Like Shop for Clothes
When asked what industry they would most like to receive mobile ads for, a whopping 75% of females listed apparel. Within the apparel category, 32% of young women were most interested in getting ads informing them of short-term sales, and 29% were specifically interested in ads promoting new tops. Shoes, jewelry, and seasonal items were significantly less important.
The Boys Prefer Gadgets & Groceries
Males weren’t quite so unanimous in their taste, though 51% still agreed that they were most interested in getting ads relating to electronics. Of this portion, an equal number (33% each) said they wanted to see ads for new phones and new computers.
Ads for food—from grocery stores, in particular—were a distant runner up, getting 21% of the male vote. This is no doubt welcome news for popular grocery chains like Safeway, who continue to devote huge resources to their mobile presence.
Here is a deeper breakdown of the respondents’ mobile advertising preferences, by vertical:
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