Marketing overload prompts young users to jump ship
Ever since the first Millennial bleep-and-blooped -- dial-up style -- into the wilds of the Internet, crafty marketers have tried every trick to win them (er, us) over online. I’ve long imagined I’m being watched as I hover my mouse over a Facebook ad, a narrator voicing my every move, National Geographic-style:
“And now, the young woman approaches the ad. Will she click? She pauses, weighing whether or not she has been properly lured in. We wait, with baited breath.”
Of course, this paranoia is not without cause. We’re a swollen bubble of a generation, the first “digital natives,” and now, with each passing year, becoming increasingly brand loyal. The clock, it seems, is ticking to get us to commit our dollars. In turn, online marketing has gotten stunningly laser-like, as (predominantly) Baby Boomers and Gen Xers try to figure out just how to reach Kids Today™.
Enough, already. A recent poll commissioned by Lithium Technologies—the latest in a long line of reports about our #onlinefeelings—found that 74% of digital natives (that’s Millennials and the up-and-coming Gen Z-ers) object to brands in their social media feeds, causing more than half (56%) to cut back on social media or eliminate it altogether.
This comes as no surprise to anyone, of any generation, who has ever been subjected to a Twitter “targeted ad” (scattershot, pointless) or a creepy, hyper-specific Facebook sidebar (no, I don’t want to participate in any health trials). Social media platforms, unlike television, radio, or even YouTube, are still primarily personal, and the intrusion of in-your-face product-hocking can feel downright invasive.
There is, however, a loophole. A whopping 35% of digital natives trust and value celebrity endorsements, compared with just 19% of older generations. And brands are latching on voraciously. Companies now shell out many thousands of dollars for A-listers (and B-listers, and C-listers) to take a snap with their product and post it on Instagram or Snapchat, lending a faux-personal and aspirational touch to the product. (Hey Bey?)
For someone like former Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Lisa Rinna, a post with an item—like a teeth whitening kit—goes for $3,000 for Facebook, Instragram, or Twitter. Looking to score some social media love from the Kardashian-adjacent Scott Disick? That’ll run you between $15,000-20,000 per Instagram post. Not to mention high-profile fashion bloggers (aka 2016 celebrities), who make much of their living through this “sponsored social” way of life.
For better or worse, this (very human) flaw in our advertising-hating algorithm doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, with a whole fresh crop of more Gen Z-specific stars itching to take over the reins.
Millennials, breathe a sigh of relief. Soon, no one will be clamoring for our youthful, disposable income or feel the need to lambast us to get off of their digital lawn. Believe it or not, we might just be the ones shaking our collective heads at zany Gen Z antics and waxing poetic about the days of Khloe Kardashian FitTea photos. As a courtesy to the next generation, though, let’s try to remember the scrutiny we received and go easy.
It’s the least we can do for the whippersnappers.