What do young people want to read, watch and consume.
Five things you need to know about what young people are going to read, watch and consume next.
1. A lot of marketing content looks like content, smells like content, but when you take a bite… it's advertising.
When advertising masquerades as content, it’s a huge turn off for millennials. In a market massively oversupplied with digital content and with audiences who are highly cynical of large organisations, the need for brands to be trustworthy and purposeful is more important than ever. For 16-24’s we need to press a reset button and think about brand advocacy. That means long-term thinking, and really getting to understand their needs, interests and passions.
2. Youth audiences are hungry for content that has universal truth but is also personally relevant to them.
With the right mix of content built around audience passion, there is an opportunity to not only comment on culture but to contribute towards it. In a world of fake-news, and with advertising no longer supporting traditional media in the way it once did, brands have a responsibility to facilitate culture more than ever.
Diageo are taking this approach seriously. With Guinness’ ‘Made of more’ tagline, they are aiming to set agendas, rather than react to them. By taking on subjects including gay rights in Rugby, and with Smirnoff’s also committing to double the number of female headliners at electronic festivals by 2020, they are making a bold statement of intent. Rory Sheridan, head of sponsorship for Diageo, comments that this is also a move to be more relevant to smaller audiences:
It’s not about reaching millions of people but reaching the right people through smart targeting and original content. Made of more allows them to speak on a personal level.
3. The influencers of tomorrow are judged not on their reach but instead by their passion and credibility.
With social spend becoming ever more targeted, I predict that online influencers who have been building large audiences will be at a disadvantage over those who have built an audience without cultivating it for commercial gain. Insight through campaigns we’ve worked on, including our work across Europe with Destination Canada, shows that it's a false economy to rely on the scale of their audiences alone.
While big numbers seem to make sense on the surface, over time the brand benefits more from quality, authenticity and passion over blind reach. There is a happy median where you have scale and everything connects -- the content, the audience and the brand that's offering something of value -- which makes audiences happy and drives genuine advocacy.
4. So how do we get there? It’s time for brands’ true colours to shine through.
Brands need to segment their marketing by audience passion, not by products they sell. Then match audience passions to partners who know these audiences and are credible to them. Dig in, work with people who avoid desktop research, but instead have networks connected with scenes on the ground, as they happen.
We need to be prepared to let go of the brand a bit, to allow for new ways of working. The focus should be on giving value to whatever gets you closest to your audience, which might come from sources that are new to you, collaborating on events, co-production, co-creation and curation of content -- whatever it takes to give your audience something that’s both premium but also credible to the core.
Many of these approaches are done every day by indie publishers. Boutique media owners like TCO have been at it for years, through Huck, their youth culture brand, and Little White Lies, the film and entertainment brand. They leverage audience insight and then back up the insight with actionable access to stories, scenes and people through their networks.
5. But what about VR?
Don’t become distracted with the buzz around new tech like VR. Marketing is a mix of science and technology, but when tech takes the front seat things become gimmicky very quickly. When you think of VR, think PR, because that is all you’re going to get.
The opportunity is far greater in putting the audience first and taking a long-term view of brand preference over a quick hit of brand recognition. Then you open up the possibility of making long-form branded content. Because if the audience truly values what you are producing, they will want more of it. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Simon Baker, TCO Agency Managing Director was on the keynote panel discussion at the Youth Marketing Summit London, speaking alongside the YouTube and the BBC.