Millennials and Website Advertising

One important aspect of advertising is knowing your demographic and how they respond to ads and sales pitches. On the internet, one of your biggest demographics in America is the millenial generation: these are younger people, as old as about their mid-20s.

Digital Generation Lives Online

What makes this demographic so important for website publishers is that they’re a large part of the internet and they’ve been online for many years already. In fact, thanks to early exposure to the internet and online marketing, millenials can be quite cynical about advertising and any sort of ads you put up on your website. In fact, it will go so far that millenials will often turn around and leave a website just as quickly as they’ve arrived – if they feel like it is excessively monetized or it exists for the sole purpose of making sales.

So, unfortunately, not only are millenials a huge part of the internet population, they’re also the least likely to spend some money. A majority of the generational bloc hasn’t even graduated from school to the work force, so disposable income tends to be low. On the older end, recent college grads have seen wages hold flat over the last few years, and the popping of housing and debt bubbles hasn’t exactly brought a lot of easy money to these folks like may have been the case back in the ’90s with Gen X.

In a few years, this is probably going to change as the demographic group is able to buy up cheap assets at depressed prices, but for now its a cynical, and kind of poor group.

So how do you capitalize on a savvy and often cheap group of internet surfers?


Maybe its the lifetime exposure to mass media and internet advertising. Maybe its the politicians we’ve grown up with, or the photo-shopped celebrities that dominate magazine covers. Something about it though makes “fakeness” visible, apparent, and somewhat disgusting.

If you go running around the internet telling everyone you’re a millionaire and you just need $50 before you’ll tell them about your secrets, well, they’re going to wonder why a millionaire needs $50 so badly. You still need to demostrate authority, but it has to be done authentically. Modesty can go a long way.

Add value for customers

I mentioned how to add value for your customers in an earlier post, and this is especially important for connecting with millenials. Save the sales pitch, give them a coupon or discount. They know how to use the internet to research a product or service, so your best bet is to offer the best prices or most authoritative information about the product. “Authoritative” in this sense also means pointing out product problems and possible alternative choices.

Provide discounts and freebies

Nothing is better than “free,” just be careful as the promise of something for nothing can conflict with the cynicism and skepticism. Platform applications, free education information, useful links, humor… Anything you can provide to the user at no cost – while keeping advertising at a minimum – can get you some attention from the bookmark sites and blogs that carry a lot of link juice and traffic.

Generalizations Aren’t Everything

Individuals are just that – unique individuals. At the end of the day, it is the individual who makes a purchase or not. There’s no generalizations you can keep in mind that will keep everyone happy or maximize your conversions across multiple demographic groups, and as always, the best path to success is paved with “quality.”

Yet it is true that the advertising techniques of 10 years ago aren’t going to cut it in today’s online world. There are some subtle shifts that go along with the fact that many people in my age group have made more money online than they’ve spent.

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