News Video, Trends & Insights

15 ways publishers can win over a millennial audience

Sep 29, 2015


With the millennial generation dominating a quarter of the population, publishers, and brands are going to great lengths to win them over. Ranging from high school seniors to parents, the 18-34 year-olds are nearly impossible to define, and even harder to satisfy. Even though the tech-savvy generation has proven to be a moving target, it hasn’t stopped publishers from taking action. What can they do to engage this unattainable audience?

 1. Join team “social media”.

Publishers have realized the value of distributing content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. In order to please the millennial generation, publishers are releasing control of their content to share it in the one place millennials can’t resist: newsfeeds.

2. Embrace the video craze.

In response to the massive upswing in video consumption, publishers have worked to incorporate more video into their strategies to gain the attention of millennials. The New York Times and other more traditional publishers are trying out new types of videos that resemble content created by the generation.

3. Make an app.

CNN has adapted to the millennial world by employing the smartphone. Their app allows users to view news updates through push notifications, so CNN can insert themselves between their audience’s texts and Facebook messages.

4. Offer ads that cater to the generation.

Because millennials are so wary of advertising, ad formats should accommodate the generation’s short attention spans and mobile lifestyle to make publishers’ sites more user-friendly with minimal interruptions.

5. Get emotional.

Millennials relate better to emotional stories, and publishers have responded accordingly. Publishers have historically played with their audiences’ emotions, but maybe even more so now than ever before.

6. Know when the price is right.

Millennials are a  money-conscious generation and won’t spend a penny more than necessary. They’re all about freebies and freemiums, especially when it comes to publishers’ digital content when it’s in such abundance.

7. Perfect the title.

In a fast-paced world where millennials are bombarded with frequent life transitions, there’s not much time for news. Sites like Reddit have seen success thanks to the effectiveness of a well-crafted title, making news accessible for the generation to stay informed.

8. Love the listicle.

Listicles help organize information in a way that’s easy to view and easy to consume. It’s not just Buzzfeed anymore either; trade publications like Digiday are even getting on board with this widespread trend in publishing.

9. Give your news an ‘entertainment’ makeover.

Now that news is available across all social media platforms, a new morph of entertainment and hard news is occurring. News is often delivered with a lighter tone with a hint of sarcasm or sensationalism in order to grab the attention of busy millennials.

10. Pull them from platforms.

The best place to catch an unsuspecting millennial is on social media platforms, and publishers are learning how to lure them onto their native sites. By posting intriguing stories and teaser videos to platforms, many publishers are targeting the generation with click-bait.

11. Nail Buzzfeed brevity.

Buzzfeed has created a newsletter that is sent to their subscribers daily. The bullet point news update allows millennials to access information about the world around them without sifting through excess content.

12. Earn their trust.

Millennials tend to be better educated and more skeptical than other generations. Because this generation is full of fact-checkers, publishers need to go above and beyond to cite and link sources to their stories. There’s no better way to gain millennials’ loyalty than to gain their trust.

13. Sack subscriptions.

With millennials being the first to shy away from commitment, publishers can’t expect subscriptions to sit well with this enormous audience. Limiting obligation, cost and barriers to content, will make for happy millennials.

14. Jazz up stories.

Technology is a defining factor of the millennial generation, and it’s obvious that they’ve grown accustomed to a little wow-factor. Popular publishers amongst millennials tend to emphasize flashier aspects of stories. Adding pictures, GIFs, and videos is a winning tactic to hook these visual learners.

15. Let them have a voice.

Millennials love to hear the thoughts and opinions of their peers, and the news is no exception. Some of the most successful sites with this audience (such as Reddit) allow their users to comment on stories. Making news an interactive and open forum opens the door to countless members of the generation.

Although the thought of such inconsistent preferences can be daunting, there are ways to hook the millennial audience. Once publishers begin to understand where they differ and where they share interest, progress can be made to please this giant wave of diverse consumers.