Want to Reach Millennials? Don’t Ignore Traditional Media

July 14, 2016  |  Pat McGovern

Thinking Big

For those that think traditional media is no longer relevant — especially for Gen-Y — think again.

BVK recently conducted an in-depth study on Millennials. Part of our research examined media channel usage across multiple demographics. Using MRI (Mediamark Research and Intelligence), a service that annually gathers data from 26,000 adult U.S. consumers about their media usage, psychographics, attitudes and consumer behavior, we looked at media consumption by age range.

What emerged was interesting.  

As expected, Millennials are heavy Internet users — no surprise there. However, the fact that Millennials 18-20 years of age are twice as likely to use the Internet when compared to Boomers and are also significantly more likely to use it than Gen Xers was more than we expected.

But the bigger surprise came when we looked at the next three channels Millennials consume: magazines, radio and outdoor. Three of the oldest traditional mass media channels!


Our findings are supported by other current studies. According to Nielsen, of the 243 million Americans (aged 12 or older) using traditional radio each week, 66.6 million of them are Millennials. That is significantly greater than the size of weekly Gen-Xers or Boomers with 57.9 million weekly listeners each. And Millennials listen a lot, spending more than 11 hours a week listening to radio.

Then there’s outdoor. With older Millennials, outdoor is as important as both radio and magazines. It makes sense, though. Many consumers within this age range are in or entering the workforce, which means a commute of some sort, and therefore more exposure to out-of-home advertising.

The question is: are those exposed to outdoor advertising paying attention to the message?

According to an Arbitron study they are. 71% of those surveyed “often look at the messages on billboards.” And 68% indicated they frequently or sometimes make their shopping decisions while in the car.

Finally, there’s print. A study conducted by Quad/Graphics, one of the nation’s largest printers, found nearly half of Millennials surveyed made a purchase because of something they read about in a magazine.  And 51% said they pay attention to ads found in magazines.

What Do They Read?

Given this information, we wanted to know what magazines Millennials are reading. Again, using MRI we broke the demographic into two segments: younger Millennials, those 18-20 years of age, and older Millennials, those 21-34 years of age.

We found that younger Millennials are more likely to read People, Seventeen, Game Informer and surprisingly National Geographic. The older group is more likely to read Parade Carrier Newspapers, USA Weekend Carrier Newspapers, Better Homes & Gardens and, of course, Parents. 


4 Implications for Higher Education Marketers:

  1. Online will continue to remain the critical channel for Gen-Y. That said, 2 out of 3 Millennials are now blocking ads. The same, old online approach won’t work with this demo. Marketers need to evolve their approach considering more native formats as a way to engage with this generation in this channel.
  2. To increase reach of your message, marketers need to expand beyond online. This is especially important to schools looking to build awareness for a new program or expand their footprint into new markets.
  3. In terms of where to invest media dollars beyond digital, our MRI data points to magazines, radio and outdoor for older Millennials.
  4. Not surprisingly, TV is not a heavy usage for Millennials as they are generally streaming the shows they want to watch. However, video content is extremely important, so marketers should consider developing video for their website and social media channels, as well as incorporating pre-roll ads into their media mix.

To learn more about the Millennials and how to engage with this demographic, visit us here.  You can also request more information here.


is VP at BVK

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