Out-of-home advertising to millennials

OOH advertising to millenials

Millennials are arguably the most discussed generation since the Baby Boomers, particularly when it comes to out-of-home advertising to millenials.

The most common definition of this generation is that cohort of people born between 1980 and 2000, also referred to as Generation Y. There are close to 14 million millennials in the UK, and globally they represent the largest generation in western history.

With the last few members of the millennial cohort coming of age, we are perhaps witnessing the peak of this trillion dollar global spending power.

This is a switched on, tech savvy generation likely to use a combo of mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop computers to connect with their peers.

Less likely than previous generations to read newspapers or even watch TV news (or TV at all) they look to their social media feeds for news and updates, are as likely to take their ad cues from in app messages, YouTube and Spotify ads, and promoted posts than through magazine spreads.

And they’re out and about too, attending gigs, socialising in pubs and bars, fast food restaurants and other food outlets, and roaming the malls.

Millennials curate their own content and are very discerning; they are looking for authenticity and a brand voice that resonates with their views, concerns and sense of identity.


millenials on smartphones

For millennials the smartphone is ubiquitous. Advertisers should be highly aware of the actions audiences take after exposure to their messages. OOH drives a massive 140% uplift in smartphone brand actions amongst millennials, compared to an average 17% increase according to a 2016 Outperform study. So there is everything to play for here.

The study also reveals 63% of millennials block ads on their devices, making OOH a crucial method of brand exposure.


Outdoor advertising is not only trusted more than online mediums such as banner ads, search results, and ads on social networks; it drives more brand engagement actions, with 56% trusting the medium and 58% taking action, according to a global study by Nielsen.

An interesting observation is that millennials, steeped in digital media like no other generation, are actually less cynical of traditional advertising formats. Trust in OOH (56%) is actually higher than trust in online video ads (46%) and paid online ads (48%).

Millennials love a deal

In this regard they are certainly no different to other market segments, yet given the likelihood that they are students or on low incomes at their present stage of life and career, you can’t beat a good deal for driving brand engagement.

To take a prime example, Keds footwear retailers ran an Outdoor campaign at London’s Westfield Shopping centre, offering a 20% discount voucher for shoppers who logged in to the company’s Wi-Fi page via a billboard screen, leading to a 28% uptick at a nearby Keds store.


Millennials have access to more content creation tools than any preceding generation, from iMovie to Instagram, Garage Band to Snapchat, Pinterest to Medium… not to mention smart phone cameras and video capture technology.

They are also looking for a platform on which to present their creations to the public. They are perhaps one of the most publicly minded generations and they are often very aware of their own “brand image”.


A campaign for Starbucks saw the coffee giant offer a prize for the best doodle on one of their cups. Thousands of Starbucks customers posted images of their decorated cups under the #WhiteCupContest tag. The winning design was printed on a limited run of Starbucks reusable cups. A pretty neat way to crowdsource marketing content.



Oddness purveyors, Ripley’s set out to drive footfall at their venues and gain global exposure by tapping into the Pokémon Go craze. Their #RipleysGO in-venue hashtag was a contest launched to coincide with the US release of the game, to see who could catch the rarest Pokémon in and around their various Odditoriums and Aquariums.

Older millennials who grew up with Pokémon games and trading cards and younger millennials coming to the game for the first time are behind the staggering popularity of the Pokémon GO phenomenon, and this was a savvy move from Ripley’s that tapped into current trends to forge a spectacularly effective campaign and gain massive footfall and exposure.

Social media

kfc-snapchat-oohThere’s no question about it, marketers need to integrate social media into their campaigns to be truly effective.

KFC recently partnered with Snapchat to give customers the opportunity to take a selfie with the iconic Colonel Sanders. Their Snapchat Selfie campaign took advantage of the Snapchat image messaging platform, which is the third most popular platform with millennials after Facebook and Instagram.


The campaign used Snapchat filters on bus stop posters to deliver the lenses to audiences and show how mobile, social, and OOH can be linked up to deliver creative campaigns that resonate with core audiences.


40% of millennials have a Twitter account and just under a third use the site as an information source.

1 in 5 Twitter users retweet posts which mention specific brands, and more tellingly, users are more likely to engage with a brand if a tweet originates from a non-brand related source. This is a great reason to encourage user-generated content after exposure to your OOH ads.

Discover more about integrating Twitter into your OOH campaigns with our recent post on the subject.

Mall advertising

When it comes to marketing to millennials it’s important not to make stereotypical assessments about their shopping habits and preferences.

Despite the fact that digital and mobile is highly integrated into their lives, a study by Opinion Lab actually found that millennials prefer mall shopping to online purchasing, with 37% preferring the mall and 27% preferring online. With older generations the picture is reversed; 32% prefer online shopping and 23% prefer malls.

60% of millennials say they plan to visit the mall at least once per month and 48% cite browsing shops as their prime motivation as opposed to getting what they want (35%).

Millennials at the mall are aspirational and image-conscious, and the modern shopping centre is artfully designed to maximise marketing exposure. Find out more in our recent post on effective mall advertising.

Millennials are tech savvy and respond well to integrated campaigns. Despite this, traditional mediums such as OOH have a strong appeal and are often more effective at driving brand engagement and influencing purchasing decisions.

Often portrayed as flighty and fussy, millennials are in fact the most brand-loyal generation. But brands have to put in real work to win that loyalty, with millennials looking for substance and for brands that speak to them in a genuine way and that offer real value, be it deals, quality products, or unique perspectives.

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