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The Evolution of Young Adult Viewing Habits (and What Advertisers Can Do About It)

Earlier this fall, Extreme Reach took a close look at the viewing habits of millennial consumers (typically those between 18 and 34) with the goal of drawing conclusions about best practices for advertisers. But much like the fickle viewing habits of these younger consumers, the research around this age group is constantly evolving. That’s why this week we’re revisiting the topic, using data gathered by eMarketer that investigates The Evolving Landscape of US TV & Video Advertising and Consumption. What conclusions can we draw about young adult viewing habits and what can advertisers do to reach this elusive consumer group?

eMarketer’s research points to the continued importance of video ad campaigns as a tool to target younger consumers. Streaming video is wildly popular with this younger viewing cohort. Deloitte found that more than 80% of Internet users between the ages of 19 and 32 watch TV programming via a streaming service. This is in comparison to just 58% of the total audience of Internet users, across all ages, who do the same.

Advertisers should look to ad-supported streaming services to try and help “close the gap” as younger viewers move away from traditional TV. eMarketer’s research found that younger viewers are less willing to pay for traditional TV. They cite Forrester data revealing that in while 65% of 18-31 year olds in 2015 were “cord havers” (those with a paid cable TV subscription) the projection for 2025 is for that number to drop to just 50% of 18 to 31 year olds. For advertisers, this means they will need to be ready to pull the trigger on alternative ad buys like those offered by free, ad-supported streaming platforms. While popular services like Netflix may not offer ads (though they apparently do allow product placement), other services like Hulu, Yahoo’s View and Vudu provide plenty of options.

The changing habits of younger adult viewers present a tricky challenge for advertisers. Not only are these habits constantly evolving, but many of the traditional TV ad strategies that worked for older generations simply don’t perform as well with younger viewers. Advertisers will need to get creative with their media plans and be willing to experiment to see what strategies gain traction in this new multi-platform, digital-centric environment.