Millennials are the talk of the town. Now in their late 20s and 30s, they've adopted digital like no other. Mobile is their choice. No surprise there.
As we go into 2015, mobile is on a roll. Forecasts indicate that mobile will outpace all other forms of digital advertising. Skyrocketing sales of new smartphones, an explosion in the number of apps and the growing influence of the millennial generation are coming together like never before.
The data are convincing. According to comScore, the research firm that looks at how people navigate digital, Millennials use apps more than any other age group:
"Those between the ages of 25-34 spend more time on mobile apps than any other segment examined - slightly edging out the younger 18-24 year-old demographic. At 75 hours of mobile app usage per month, the 25-34 year-old age group topped those ages 35-54 and those 55 and older by nearly 11 hours and 25 hours per month, respectively."
For the full report, go here.
Mobile got a dramatic boost when Steve Jobs opened the iPhone operating system to developers. What followed was a wave of entrepreneurship that would become a driving force behind smartphone use and pave the way for mobile advertising.
Only a few days after the launch of the App Store in 2008, it was clear that something big was taking place. Steve Jobs announced: "The App Store is a grand slam, with a staggering 10 million applications downloaded in just three days."
Within five years, Apple would report 50 billion app downloads and the number would climb at the rate of two billion apps per month.
As Millennials move up the ranks in business and their spending power increases, they're becoming a coveted target for marketers. Escalating app usage, leveraged by steadily climbing new smartphone purchases, point the way.
But do traditional advertising techniques work with them?
We know that Millennials are different than the generations before them. They have been described by The Pew Research Center as "forging a distinctive path," "detached from institutions" and unattached from many of the traditions that have influenced earlier generations. Loyalty is hard won, questioning is the norm and proof is key. At the same time, they are closely networked with friends.
This makes them tougher to target because they don't often respond to the same role models and opinion leaders as in the past.
When I talk with my millennial children, the message I get is that they ignore most traditional advertising. They actually tune it out. They might be entertained by a cute commercial but the message is lost. Specifically when it comes to smartphones, while they use Instagram, they pay little attention to the sponsored photos. They say they are tiring of Facebook and, on Twitter, they often ignore what they see as innocuous chit chat.
With social media, Millennials take pride in searching for themselves and then deciding. They see Flipboard, for example, as offering choice, a broad perspective and what they view as objectivity. They are skeptical, determined to find what's credible. And those same impulses are behind the backlash against "clickbait."
That said, how best to market to these Millennials?
Perhaps the answer means coming full circle and reminding ourselves that the most effective marketing is -- and always has been -- word of mouth. Simply because it is trusted.
If so, then these mobile Millennials are to be among the toughest marketing challenges of 2015.