Millennials and Branded Content: 8 Ways Brands Can Engage Millennials

Engaging the Millennial consumer is crucial to Corporate America’s marketing plans, and well really, any startup, new venture, small to mid-sized business (SMB), or company that relies on the largest people group on the planet for revenue when it comes to their bottom line.

Branded content plays a key role in this effort. 

According to the recently released quantitative study “Storytelling: The Current State of Branded Content” by IPG Media Lab, Forbes and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, branded content’s impact is superior to display advertising in terms of recall, brand perception and intent/consideration.

The study results include findings on how Millennials react to branded content: “longer-form, branded content drives Millennial purchase consideration: 18-34 year olds responded better to long articles, driving higher engagement consideration rates and aiding recall.”

As consumers continue to shift their attention to mobile devices at the expense of more traditional media channels, they gain more control over their content consumption experience, opting to ignore, skip, and even block advertising they did not opt-in for. This is especially true in the tech-savvy, Millennial segment.

While marketers continue to scratch their heads to overcome the increasingly more hostile ad-blocking environment at the hands of Google and Apple, branded content has risen as a smart, evergreen advertising alternative, and has indeed changed the way brands can connect with consumers.

But there are unique challenges in creating and distributing sponsored content intended for the Millennial generation.

Here are seven steps you can take in connecting your brand with free-thinking, and highly connected, Millennial users via content they actually want to consume.

1. Partner with a trusted publisher

Identify publishers trusted by your Millennial audience and partner with them.

This step is critical because sponsoring content on publishers that do not offer a safe or enjoyable user experience — or worse on publishers that are not regarded as reputable by your unique buying tribes — is bound to affect your brand’s perception negatively.

2. Produce relevant content

Research the likes and dislikes of your Millennial consumer, then plan your content around topics that are most important to them. Apply user-data information as a guide to shape your content offering, and leverage your partnering publisher’s familiar voice to tell your brand’s story in a way that resonates best with them.

Beyond just the idea of “content production,” keep in mind that content creation and production isn’t just about words and copywriting. Any piece of content must also include visually engaging photography just as much as it needs to tell a powerful story.

In many ways, you can bank on the fact that the pictures used throughout your article are as important, if not more important than the words themselves, based on the well-documented visual leanings of Millennials. (Not to mention they are also important for, and will impact, your content’s SEO rankings.)

If you need some excellent resources for stock photography with Millennial-relevant imagery, checkout stock photography platforms like under our Resources for Startups section.

3. Offer valuable content

Fight the urge to produce salesy sponsored content. Rather, look for building brand loyalty by offering Millennials entertaining, educational, inspirational, or otherwise valuable content. Millennials are prone to associating their appreciation for a prized piece of content with the sponsoring brand. Take advantage of this.The production of valuable content definitely pays. According to the above cited study of IPG Medialab, an increase in the effectiveness of branded content over time was also measured. Aided ad recall showed a 17 percentage point improvement when measured against a similar 2013 study conducted by the IPG Media Lab.

Fight the urge to produce salesy, sponsored content.

4. Share their values

Beyond your brand’s values, your sponsored content should elevate the values of your Millennial consumer. A study by the Pew Research Center concluded that…[read more at]