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The millennial. A generation that has become a buzzword. Born into technology and hyper-connectivity, they are one of the most talked about and researched groups of consumers.

As an extremely diverse group, roughly 80 million in number, driving $200 billion in annual market spend, it’s hardly surprising that brands have taken a particular interest.

They are influencers of culture and products. As digital natives, they grew up with technology, and have a deep understanding of its uses and potential. It also means they’ve been exposed to brand messaging in multiple formats, multiple times a day since, they were born. They have a heightened awareness of marketing schemes, and they understand their roles (and power) as consumers.

While this level of intelligence can be intimidating for brands, I can assure you that marketing to millennials simply requires understanding their lifestyles; who they are, where they are, what they care about, how they interact with content (hint: they like to share), and the fact that being inundated with messages has led to a short attention span.

To keep it short and sweet, just the way your audience likes it, here are five questions they will ask themselves when they are deciding to interact with your ads:

1. Does it relate to ME?

Millennials range from 18-34, and are one of the most ethnically diverse populations. They are saturated with content, both from friends and brands, so a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective. They want to know that companies are paying attention to who they are, and what they want. Analytics-based segmentation on behavior and demographics, and optimizing campaigns based on those results, will ensure your content reaches the consumers who are more likely to connect with what you have to say.

2. Is it where I am?

Millennials love their smartphones, but that doesn’t mean they’ve neglected other platforms. It has been reported that, on average, they use three different devices at once (which, by the way, is expected to reach five with the upcoming Generation Z). They are playing games, watching videos, and chatting with each other via text and messaging apps. Cross-platform campaigns will enable you to reach the widest audience, especially if you leverage campaigns on social media. Working with a network partner that can help you place your content on web and mobile apps in particular will open the door for you to interact with your audience in their preferred media environment.

3. Did it interrupt me? Rude.

Banner ads and interstitials were more effective in the early days of online marketing, but the lack of originality and disruptive nature only serve to annoy today. In fact, 80 percent of millennials reported being turned off by intrusive ads. Control is as important as autonomy and experiences. Creating ad formats that allow the choice to interact will increase your chances of both engagement and brand recall.

4. Should I tell my friends?

Millennials are prolific on social media, with 81 percent admitting to having active Facebook accounts.They use these sites to fuel their love of sharing experiences and interesting content. Remember what we said about them being on three devices at once? Two of those devices are typically used for communications, such as Facebook, messaging, texting, or email. By creating humorous, informative or unique content and adding the option to share after engagement (i.e. social share buttons, or leveraging messaging apps), an opportunity will be presented for them to introduce your brand to their friends (you’ll be cool by association).

5. Is it different?

Digital natives are exposed to all different types of marketing. Create something that is not only unique, but also experiential. This includes gamified ads, or rewarding them in-app for completing purchases in their favorite brick and mortar stores. A report by VentureBeat last year noted that engagement on gamified ads reached 16.2 percent, while the average ad was only 10.4 percent.

Millennials are not passive consumers, happy to absorb static images and unoriginal content. They are as active in the way they interact with brands as they are in their social lives. Don’t insult their intelligence by forcing new ads into old ad formats. Be creative. Above all, understand and embrace that you’re not the only one doing the talking; the conversation is now going two ways.

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