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Industry Focus: Embrace the Millennials

Why local stations should dare to be different, embrace the second screen and seize the advertising moment.

Millennials, America’s largest generation, are a population bigger than Gen X or the Baby Boomers. They are more diverse, ethnically, politically and socially than any previous generation. Millennials, those born after 1980, comprise over 68 million people in the prized 18-34 demographic according to Nielsen. They are a force to be reckoned with and nowhere is that more evident than in the television industry. There are a few things every station needs to know about this coveted 18-34 demographic that can help them capture more viewers, increase web hits and generate revenue.

Dare to be Different

If the Millennial generation could describe itself it would say they are bold, courageous, self-expressive, liberal, optimistic and open to change. Now is the time to tap into some of that change. A Millennial audience is different from the audiences stations are used to and they are different from one DMA to another. Local broadcasters live and breathe their community. You have an abundance of local demographic data. You know what your community is feeling and how perceptions, attitudes and ideas are changing. Embrace these new ideas. Do not be afraid to be less polished. Be raw and spontaneous. Mirror the diversity of your audience in your on-air personalities. Come out from behind the anchor desk and engage in a conversation. Determine what the Millennials in your DMA are seeking in their local broadcast and go for it! They will notice the difference and will tune in.

Embrace the Second Screen

Nielsen has been reporting for years on the growing phenomenon of Smartphone, tablet, PC use while watching traditional television. Millennials have embraced the second screen and have become the generation of multi-tasking. To these viewers, tweeting and posting their thoughts and opinions while watching television and leveling in Candy Crush comes as second nature. This creates a huge opportunity for broadcasters to open a dialogue with viewers, learn first-hand what they are looking and create an interactive cross-platform experience. A few sentences or 140 characters is simply too limited to convey an entire story. Social media may break the story but it can, and should, drive viewers to your broadcast and traffic to your website for the rest of the details.

In addition to social media, Millennials are frequent online video watchers. Multiple studies have shown that while most prefer traditional television (it is more comfortable to watch and better for group viewing), online video viewing has its benefits. Online/on-demand video and streaming video offers a more immediate, personalized and customized experience. Online video is so important to a website that the first thing most Millennials look for on any site is the video “play button”. And, most important for advertisers, the most recent New York Times video study shows that 6 out of 10 people are likely to watch the pre-roll advertising if the countdown timer is clearly visible.

Seize the Revenue

As the largest generation, their sheer number speaks to their influence and buying power. What most people do not realize is how soon their influence will be felt. A recent survey by Berglass + Associates reports that Millennials will outspend Baby Boomers in the next 5 years. With their new found buying power and the amount of time spent online or mobile devices, Millennials are exactly who advertisers are trying to reach. By delivering content Millennials want and driving more online traffic, your station and website become the coveted location for new advertisers.

The Millennial generation is a major part of the world and is set to consume media, local broadcast included, in a completely different way than previous generations. Now is the time for stations to embrace the change. Doing so will keep your station relevant, keep viewers tuning in and generate significant new station revenue.