Advertising to Millennials versus other generations

As Millennials are the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, advertisers must find successful ways to market to them. According to a study on comScore, Millennials have an estimated purchasing power of $170 billion dollars per year. ComScore vice president Bert Miklosi states, “Their comfort-level with the Internet and technology in general makes the digital medium an ideal platform for reaching these individuals. But as is typical with younger people when compared their older counterparts, Millennials are generally more difficult to persuade via advertising, amplifying the importance of creative and messaging optimization in driving worthwhile returns from an investment in advertising to this segment.”

This does not come as a surprise that Millennials respond more to advertising on a digital medium especially versus the television. In fact, people are constantly becoming more and more dependent on these digital mediums, specifically the mobile phone, that 4 billion people own a mobile device worldwide. Do you find that surprising? Compare it to the estimated 3.5 billion who own a toothbrush worldwide (Booz & Company). Now, that puts things in a slightly different perspective.

Q Scores conducts studies to assist their clients in understanding the emotional bonds consumers have with brands. Both males and females take part in this study as well as children, teenagers, and adults to see what responses are given from different logos. Studies like this will show research analysts essential information and provide the information Miklosi is seeking.

As a Millennial and also an advertiser, I can agree that I am more likely to respond to advertising online. My parents, who are in Generation X, wouldn’t be responsive to an advertisement online at all though. I probably spend at least five times more time surfing the Web than my parents do (if not more). And when my parents are online they typically ask me how to do something. Now, not everyone in Generation X is quite as computer illiterate as my parents are, but relatively speaking Millennials are a little more Web savvy, as we have never lived in a world without this technology. So if my thought that Millennials are more Web savvy is correct (does anyone agree or disagree?), and it has been proven that Millennials respond more to advertisements in digital mediums than television and print – how is it that Generation X is actually the ones who use the Internet the most? After reading, “Advancing Digital Commerce Capabilities to Drive Financial Value Perspective and Benchmarking Framework” by Booz & Company, “Next-Generation Strategies for Advertising to Millennials” report by comScore, and “Database of Brands (targeted to kids, teens or adults)” by Q Score, I wanted to look into things a little more. According to a Wikibon report, Generation X spends 33 hours and 4 minutes online a week compared to the Millennials who spend 25 hours and 54 minutes online a week ( So, why do it is that Generation X isn’t most responsive to advertisements in this digital medium like Millennials?


8 thoughts on “Advertising to Millennials versus other generations

  1. I wonder if the Gen X affinity for television vs. digital isn’t habit — the effect of being non-native in the digital age? I’m a Gen X’er and a fairly prolific web user, but the clutter of advertisement on the web doesn’t feel as nearly as powerful to me as a 30-second spot on a television show I have sat down to watch and given my full attention to. Perhaps to a Millennial it’s not as powerful as they’re likely to have a smartphone out at the same time? Supposition but it feels, to this X’er, plausible. Also of interest is that the time difference you cite in the Morgan Linton survey is “time at a computer”…I can’t really tell but I wonder if that is excluding time spent on smart devices? And perhaps the time at a computer for Gen. X’ers is more likely to be at work, where they are less likely to respond to advertising than they would with personal computer use? Just a couple of thoughts.

    • Joni, I think you have a point with Gen X being non-native in the digital age. There are clearly people within Gen X that are Web savvy (unlike my parents), but just aren’t as responsive to Web advertisements. Television could be more powerful because that’s what has always been there to grab your attention. Also, in regards to the citation, I found a few different studies that talked about the time spent online and Gen X were still the ones who proved to be online the most, though the numbers did differ in a few of the studies. Most did not mention smart phone usage though, which is definitely something to take into consideration.

  2. The toothbrush stat is just crazy. Am I surprised? No, not really.

    Like Joni, I am part of Generation X. I spend a lot time in front of a computer; mostly at work. When I come home I usually turn on the television, and turn my laptop off for the night. My attention is not split.

    Overall, I would say I am pretty tech savvy. (Ha!) However, I think we have to be in this program. If I pull out my iPhone, it’s usually to post a picture or tweet a (clever) comment. That’s bad news for you. The way advertisers can contact with X’ers is through social media. Yes, that means more and more ads creepy into your feeds.

    Just my thoughts.

    • I’m glad you found the toothbrush statistic as shocking as I did. I think where Generation X and Millennials differ is when you go home from work, you turn the television on and your laptop off. I, on the other hand, have the television on and my laptop still open on my lap. I’m constantly multitasking and my focus is rarely ever just on the television especially during commercials. And I assume there are a lot of other Millennials who do the same as me.

  3. It comes down to Generation X’ers not being native to digital. They are the generation that Best Buy tends to love due to lack of knowledge of new technology compared to Millennials. I do see enormous opportunity in the convergence of PR and “Word of Mouth” advertisement via Social Media instead of just pure ads. The Obama campaign and similar groups scratched the surface of this in 2012, but going forward I see micro-targeting of the average person to become “brand evangelists” becoming more prominent. The key is to avoid the message sounding too spam ridden.

    • Like I said to Joni, I agree that Gen X is not native to this digital age is why, they can be Web savvy, but aren’t as responsive to Web advertisements. I like that you brought up PR and word of mouth via social media versus pure advertisements. Social media is a great way to target potential consumers and I think advertisers have just recently started showing just how they can. In the years to come people will see a shift in advertising via social media and how specific it can target you. With Facebook advertisements you can even specify that the people you want to see you advertisement are male or female, single or married, etc.

      • I think that the power of Facebook to add consumers emails to the email lists for both businesses and non-profits will be very important going forward. With programs like Rainmaker, even low budget organizations can build their email lists through social media.

  4. Great post. Thanks for sharing the article and infographic with the class. I can completely relate to having parents who ask for help with everything on the computer. Before reading the article, I didn’t know about the toothbrush stat (a popular stat in the class!) — it makes sense though. It’s probably the cheapest way to stay connected.

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