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Millennials Are a Tough Bunch to Market to

Visual engagement analytics firm Sticky recently ran a study to compare how hard it is to engage baby boomers vs.  millennials with digital ads. They evaluated the digital ads on AOL Lifestyle site featured below. The results may surprise you.  


1. Baby Boomers See the Ads Up to 3x More than Millennial Do


As you can tell, there are three areas in question: The Seamless Ad, Zodiac Signs, and the AOL Lifestyle Ad. In all three areas, it was easier to engage the Baby Boomers than the Millennials.

Seamless Ad: 31% of Millennials see it; 83% of Baby Boomers see it.

Zodiac Signs: 31% of Millennials see it; 70% of Baby Boomers see it.

AOL Lifestyle Ad: 6% of Millennials see it; 83% of Baby Boomers see it.

2. Baby Boomers See the Ads Faster than Millennials


Seamless Ad: It takes Millennials 5.5 seconds to see the ad; Baby Boomers see it in 4.5 seconds.

Zodiac Signs: It takes Millennials 10.9 seconds to see the ad; Baby Boomers see it in 8 seconds.

AOL Lifestyle Ad: It takes Millennials 13.4 seconds to see the ad; Baby Boomers see it in 11.2 seconds.

3. Baby Boomers Engage with the Ads for Longer


Seamless Ad: Millennials look at the ad for 0.5 seconds; Baby Boomers look at it for 2 seconds.

Zodiac Signs: Millenials look at the ad for 0.9 seconds; Baby Boomers look at it for 1.5 seconds.

AOL Lifestyle Ad: Millennials look at the ad for 0.2 seconds; Baby Boomers look at it for 1.6 seconds.


Since Millennials have grown up in the digital world, they’re more familiar with it, so they’re better than Baby Boomers at filtering out what they don’t want to see (this is also the age group most likely to have ad blockers on their browsers). Therefore, marketers will need to try even harder to engage Millennials, and they’ll need to try new things like different page placements and funny, relevant content.

Instead of forced or intrusive tactics like pre-roll videos and unskippable page ads, which are often viewed as disruptive and annoying, marketers should focus more on original content creation to earn the engagement and attention of their targets. And to measure the effectiveness of ads, it’s increasingly important to learn the emotional engagement beforehand to predict in-market performance.

With new tactics and metrics, however, Millennials should become more engaged.

Please share...

2 responses to “Millennials Are a Tough Bunch to Market to

  1. Banner blindness and adblockers continue to make the advertising world pay for their bad ads. If ads weren’t bad, they wouldn’t be blocked. If banners had good content even Millennials might want to view them.

    Digital advertisers definitely have challenges ahead as Millennials become the primary consumer market. It will mean that advertisers will need more impressions to accomplish the same thing. They’ll also need creative strategies to get past banner blindness and they’ll need to focus on the right advertising venues instead of the traditional interruptive methods. Looking forward to seeing how all this shakes out.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.


  2. David, very insightful. We are seeing something related in China, although it goes beyond social media. We are seeing far less attention in research points to packaging and shelf arrays. Also attention levels have declined even in forced observation studies! Marketers are going to have to learn to deal with this and i don’t think it will be achieved by increased insertions. Building impressions will increasingly be a multi-medium exercise

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