Part 1 of a series featuring insights into millennial behavior – by an actual millennial

One year ago, I was introduced to the Out of Home world. OOH was not a common term used in any of my Penn State communications classes so the last year has been quite the learning experience. When I thought “advertising,” bus shelters, taxi tops, gas stations and billboards weren’t the first thing that came to mind. After being in the OOH industry for a year now, I’ve realized they’re among the most common ads we see. They’re also one of the best at reaching millennials, as traditional media – like TV, radio & print –  are no longer as effective as they once were.

This is the first in a series that will look at millennials and how they interact with media. In the first part, I will go through a day in the life of a millennial, and how they cross paths with different media. Part 2 will focus on how millennials interact with Out of Home and what creative resonates the most. Lastly, how OOH campaigns can be integrated with mobile and experiential to expand their reach. There are 92 million millennials in the US. (Goldman Sachs) We’re the biggest age group in the country (even bigger than the Boomers) and learning how to reach us is key for marketers.

It’s Monday and the work week has begun

It’s Monday morning, and my alarm goes off at 7:24 AM. As I click my phone non-stop to turn it off, I immediately fall back asleep. Ten minutes later my alarm is going off again, and I know it’s time to start my day. What do I do first? Check Facebook, obviously. Aside from receiving notifications that I’ve been tagged in a post, I often resort to Facebook to stay up to date on local and international news. For many millennials social media has replaced TV and radio as our main source of news. Before I know it, it’s 7:50 AM and it’s time to get out of my blue-sheeted bed to beat the traffic on 95 and 476.

After I quickly get ready, I’m out the door, to-go cup in hand, and headed to my car to pull out of my excellent parallel park job. I need to get pumped up for work, so, no commercials for me! My “Wild & Crazy” Spotify playlist is what’s playing on my ride.

As I merge off Washington Avenue onto 95, the billboards immediately are calling my attention. As I pass the Wawa Hoagiefest bulletin, I think to myself, “Oh my gosh, Haley. You forgot your lunch, AGAIN! And wow, Wawa’s hoagies are pretty phenomenal.” As I keep driving, I see the Powerball is now up to $100,000,000, and think, “I should probably get a Powerball ticket when I go to Wawa today.” Next thing I know, it’s pouring, and I see a bulletin for an Apple Vacation, and think to myself how much I’d rather be in Mexico than driving in this rain.

Before working in OOH, I didn’t look critically at these ads; I’d absorb the message, and then mentally move on. Now, I am constantly analyzing the bulletins and think to myself, “That ad could be better; there are way too many words.” On the other hand, I often pass boards and say to myself, “Okay, that advertiser knows how to post an effective message, and it’s working.”

As 5:45PM nears, I realize I should probably get changed into my gym clothes so I’m not late for body combat. Even though we live a busy lifestyle, going to the gym remains a priority. Especially with summer quickly nearing, staying active has instantly moved to the top of the millennial to-do listAs I’m running into the gym I see a help wanted poster for the SPCA. How can I not stop? Those puppies on the creative look so sad. I quickly grab a flyer and run up the stairs to make it to my class right as it’s starting.

By the time I get back to South Philly, drive around for 10 minutes looking for a parking spot, and walk back to my apartment, it’s eight o’clock. I quickly eat my dinner, head up to shower, watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, and get ready to do it all over again in 7.5 hours.  Millennials use more digital video than the average person, and 35% prefer viewing on YouTube. That’s almost double the 19% that prefer regular TV.

After a long five days, the weekend is here, and it’s time to have some fun!

It’s now Saturday, and after a night of catching up on my sleep, I’m ready to start the weekend. My roommate and I are up, food packed, cooler filled, and ready to go by 10AM to make it to our Phillies tailgate on time. As we make our way up Washington and wait for our friends at the corner, we see Phillies fans in a taxi with an ad on the top for the 76ers, and I realize how easy it is to see taxi tops in Philly, while climbing into a taxi or watching them drive by.

As we’re about to cross over Broad Street, a wrapped bus drives by promoting a new plan Verizon is launching next week, and I remind myself to take note, since my current service keeps dropping my FaceTime. We finally make it to the subway, head down the steps, and I see a poster for a new beer garden that is opening right near our apartment – while we’re waiting I check out their website, and send it to some friends to check out later.  Many people assume that since millennials are tied to their phones they won’t notice out of home. But based on a recent survey, 81% of smartphone owners notice some form of OOH every week, which is almost 10% higher than those without smartphones (72%). (Roy Morgan Research, “Single Source”)

Once we’re on the subway I’m sitting next to a rail card for a new fitness app. The ad includes an offer that if I download the app I’ll be entered in to win two free Eagles season tickets. I’m always looking for a new app to make my life easier. Plus living in the Greater Philadelphia area for 23 years now, I still have never been to an Eagles game so I immediately download the app and hope I am somehow the lucky winner! I guess I’m one of the 51% of US millennials that  would share information with companies in exchange for an incentive (USC Annenberg Center for a Digital Future)

We finally get to the AT&T stop and Phillies fans are pouring out of the subway. We get a text from our friends saying they are in Lot K behind the Budweiser ad that is hung up along the entire North side of the fence. Hard to miss and makes me want to hurry up and start enjoying the day! After 10 minutes of searching, we finally find our tailgate, get situated, open a Bud Light Lime, and get ready for a great day outside!

Millennials have grown up in a media saturated world. We have a healthy skepticism when it comes to advertising, and will take steps to actively avoid it in many cases. But when it comes to out of home, 60% of millennials trust OOH – more than any other demographic group. There is a much greater difference in the way we interact with media than say, the difference between Boomers & Gen X.  We live active lives, that are mostly spent outside the home, traveling to work, to work-out, or to go out with friends. The glue that holds that lifestyle together is our phone, and anything that can help us connect in the virtual world will be more likely to connect with us in the real world. To be successful today in our millennial world, brands and marketers need to shift and adapt to this lifestyle.

In our next installment we will look at what Out of Home media works for reaching millennials, and how to connect with them via creative that really resonates.

Interested in learning more about OOH? Feel free to contact EMC Outdoor . Stay tuned for more of my insights on OOH and millennials!