How to speak to Generation Y
Here's an important question for anyone involved in media and marketing. Do you know who Janoskians are? If you answered yes, you're down with the kids - or you have your own. If you answered no, then, like many in the media and marketing world, you're probably out of sync with the viewing habits of an entire generation.
The Janoskians are an Australian boy band/prankster hybrid. They're a YouTube sensation, with almost two million subscribers, their own clothing line and hordes of adoring fans known as Janoskianators. These fans are the teens and tweens who don't bother with TV.
They consume content on YouTube, and other online channels, particularly mobile. They're called millennials or Generation Y, and they're a demographic that marketers are finding increasingly hard to reach.
Earlier this week, this troublesome demographic was the topic of a session at the Digital Media Europe 2015 conference in London hosted by Greg Dybec. Dybec should know all about this troublesome demographic. He's managing editor of 'Elite Daily', an online publication created for, and by, millennials, which has created an audience of 43 million in less than two years. How? "It's authenticity," Dybec says. "Of course we look at data and understand the nuances of building and evolving a successful digital media platform, but content is only ever going to spread virally and cultivate a large readership if people actually enjoy what they're reading. The discussions we are having on the website are the discussions that our generation is having around the world."
Dybec believes that millennials are a headstrong lot; they want to formulate their own opinions, not passively consume and assimilate the news. "We are a generation that is more inclined to express ourselves and share this range of beliefs we have," he says. "Therefore, millennials' media habits are different from previous generations, because they are interested in on-the-go content that can help them come to a conclusion themselves based on their own unique circumstances and experiences."
He also believes that a one-size fits all approach isn't going to benefit brands trying to target his generation. "I think the biggest issue publishers and advertisers have when it comes to reaching millennials is that they bucket all millennials into one group.
"We are not all the same. I am very different from my friends and co-workers. There are definitely groups and titles that we would consider ourselves part of, but those are much more specific than the general umbrella of 'millennials'."
So what advice did Dybec give conference attendees on Monday? Well, his central message was don't be afraid to break the mould. "It's great to talk about all of these digital strategies that are working, from the tech side to the content itself," he says.
"But we can't forget that we're only able to talk about these things because they've already occurred and currently exist. To really succeed, and breakthrough in this industry, requires finding the question there is no answer to and figuring out that answer. No matter how difficult that may be. 'Elite Daily' was created in response to the fact that there was no singular online destination that catered to the range of millennial interests.
"And there certainly weren't any destinations written in a voice and style that millennials could trust and truly relate to."
Dybec believes that brands need to narrow their focus and make an emotional connection with particular groups and subsets of his generation. "Millennials care about being inspired or emotionally touched by what they consume," Dybec says. "Brands need to create content that fosters a conversation between individuals and groups about the larger theme that a brand represents. That's the true idea behind native advertising."
And what platforms does he recommend? "Pinterest and Tumblr will be the future of the marriage between social media and content," Dybec says. "These are platforms in which completely new content can be created specifically for them. They can be so much more than just platforms that push out pre-existing material that already lives on a homepage somewhere. Also, video is only going to become more prominent and lucrative. Establishing in-house and mobile video teams will be crucial for every brand. Video will change the way we tell stories."
And what does the future hold? How does Dybec think his generation's media consumption will evolve? "I think habits will change because technology will allow consumers to only see the type of content - from topic, to format, to length - that they want to see," he says. "I also like to think there will be more ways for readers to contribute to pre-existing content, which will create additional interactive discussions beyond general comments. I think brands and businesses will be successful in the future if they can finally begin to understand not just what digital consumers want, but why they share what they are interested in."