3 Effective Ways to Target Millennials with Billboard Ads


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, September 9, 2019

Billboards might seem old-fashioned, but as a form of advertising they’re in a good position to reach a millennial audience. Find out how you can target them here.

Article 3 Minutes

Millennials are an audience that many brands are scrambling to appeal to, but at the same time they seem to be a difficult demographic group to target. Potentially, this is because they’re more cynical about advertisements than the generations before them, and react more negatively to attempts to sell to them.

However, despite all this there’s one form of advertising that’s surprisingly effective when tailored to a millennial audience: billboards. It might seem unusual, but the key to connecting with a younger audience seems to be to go back to older marketing tactics. While it might seem counter-intuitive, under-35s are more likely to trust offline ads.

For example, Nielsen found that

  • 60% of millennials “completely or somewhat” trust billboard advertising
  • 53% trust online video ads
  • 51% trust ads on social networks
  • 48% trust ads on their mobile devices

So if billboards are an effective tactic, how can they be used to attract a millennial audience? Here are our three top tips to target this demographic:

1. Engage with them authentically

It’s no secret that millennials are big fans of authenticity. Stackla found that 90% of millennials say authenticity is important to them when deciding which brands they support. However, this demographic is also the best at spotting the difference between brand-created and user-generated content.

The key, according to a study published in The Journal of Business Research, is to use a combination of heritage, sincerity and a commitment to quality in your ad message.

These are the three qualities people most commonly associate with brand authenticity, so they’re what your campaigns should focus on.

For example, you could highlight that your business is still based in the same location its always been, and takes an active interest in the local community. If you want to highlight quality, do so without implying that you’re selling some kind of luxury item or status symbol, for the following reasons…

2. Prioritize experiences over things

Millennials are simply less interested in products than previous generations. According to Millennial Rules, a research project run by the Metro and MailOnline, this generation’s main aim is to have memorable experiences, with 57% prioritizing living life to the full over all else.

You can absolutely sell them products and services, but bear in mind that 39% of millennials dislike adverts that are obviously trying to sell them something. Instead, you need to emphasize the lifestyle you can provide if they make a purchase.

If you were selling sunglasses, for example, you would ideally market them by showing images of holidays, new locations and good times in sunny locales. This way you aren’t highlighting the product, you’re associating it with an appealing lifestyle.

3. Use personalization

More than other generations, millennials are used to being able to personalize their products and offerings. American Express, working with psychologist Emma Kenney, found that 48% of millennials expect brands to customize offers to suit their needs.

This has been done well by other brands. For example, a large part of the strength of Netflix as a brand is its ability to tailor each user’s profile based on the content they watch. Similarly, Coca-Cola saw great success simply by printing labels with a variety of different names on.

This might be harder to achieve with billboards, but research shows it’s possible to combine this kind of advertising with mobile devices. One study found that there was a 17% increase in brand actions on smartphones after users saw adverts outside, so potentially this kind of campaign can be combined with using mobile devices to provide a personalized experience.

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