Standing Out by Blending In: Reaching Millennials Through Native Advertising

In the age of ad-blockers, on-demand programming and “Which ad experience would you prefer?” how can you be sure your message is reaching your audience? Millennials in particular have proven difficult to reach through traditional promotional channels, and are one of the most powerful and influential population segments. Getting your message seen by this discerning audience might just require advertisers to rediscover the art of subtlety and leverage the evolving technologies of native advertising.

The Who

Millennials, or Generation Y, are the group of consumers that were born sometime between the 1980s and the early 2000s. A generation surrounded by progress and change, this group considers themselves to be more socially aware than other generations and reject stereotypes that have penetrated media in the past. These images, and the suggested values associated with them, have tarnished the reputation of advertising in the eyes of many Millennial skeptics. And while our industry has made progressive strides, many Millennials still refuse to pay attention to traditional forms of advertising.

Because of this, the best way to get a hold of Gen Y’s attention is to go undercover, and catch them by surprise, through quality native advertising.

The What

Native advertising is a type of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. In the past, newspaper advertorials and television infomercials ruled the columns and airwaves. Today, native advertising comes in the form of social media and blogs posts. These “ads” blend in with their surroundings, but make their sponsorship transparent and, when it comes to making their call to action, walk a fine line. The call to action cannot be too loud, yet must remain pertinent to the advertisement, because without it, the content would focus solely on building brand awareness, which can be a great thing, but might not serve the piece’s purpose. Finding the right balance of brand awareness paired with a subtle call to action, swimming in a sea of quality content, is the key to quality native advertising and reaching the Millennial generation.

The How

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—content is king. The main focus in native advertising should be your content and your results will rely heavily on this major factor. With blog posts, strive to satisfy the “why?” in the inquisitive Generation Y mentality with informative articles. To increase your share factor, lists and How Tos on relevant and trending topics are also great avenues. Remember, blogs are not the only way to reach social media through native advertising; videos and images are also an extremely effective tool. And, staying current never hurts. Brands involved with social media trends such as #throwbackthursday (and its nostalgic powers) are really making the most of their native content, blending into their surroundings, beckoning a follow or like, and in turn creating brand awareness.

The Why

Native advertising works because Gen Ys are not interested in abrasive ads—they are a generation that fast forwards through commercials and downloads ad-blocker on their browsers. Because Millennials are so inherently brand loyal, many advertisers are afraid that using these under-the-radar tactics will not be effective, however, time and time again native advertising has proven extremely effective. Gen Ys spend, on average, almost seven hours a day on the Internet, and half of that time is spent on social media sites. In fact, one third of Millennials say that they use blogs as their top media source. With native advertising, you can host your content in places these Millennials are already frequenting, making it certain to bring brands more positive engagement with the Millennial market, and markets of all ages.

Are you trying to tap into the Millennial market but just not seeing the results you need? With over 80 million Millennials, it might be time to adapt to their watching and sharing patterns and leverage these emerging and evolving technologies. Native advertising not only puts your brand on the screens of this segment, but also leaves plenty of room to get creative with your messaging and truly make an impact and connection with your targets.