The Millennial's Learning Dilemma
Digiday came out with an interesting compilation of perspectives on millennials (aka Gen Y, born in from the ’80s to the 2000’s) who comprise the new crop of working professionals in ad agencies.
The ad exec’s perspective seems largely to be that millennials feel excessively entitled, are at times over-payed and are inclined to having big ideas but no mastery of a craft. Example: an agency executive talking about a millennial he hired and then let go (via WTF Millennials: Managing Agencies’ Newest Generation:
He didn’t know how to do anything. He could talk about stuff and criticize what agencies were doing but really added no value. At one point, I walked by his desk and saw Facebook on one monitor and Tweetdeck on another. I told him that he’s so good at social media that he’s totally unproductive. We let him go a few days later. In his mind, he nailed the task and moved on to help get the ad industry back on track. Sigh. The overconfidence, zero accountability and zero remorse is 100 percent millennial. They don’t get the concept of learning.
The millennial’s perspective seems to be one which struggles to reconcile with one too many contentions: old-school divisions of labor, integrating digital and traditional advertising, and harder, bigger questions like how to maintain (idealistic?) values of openness, honesty and social good, while working in an industry that isn’t exactly reputed for these things. They’re left unable (and perhaps unwilling) to master a craft because of a lack of the bigger picture, and at times a lack of mentorship to get there.
FJP: I thought about using Tumblr’s chat-post format to excerpt these pieces as a conversation between millennials and ad execs, but in my mind, the perspectives don’t really speak to each other. Though I don’t work in advertising, the conversation touches on adjacent industries just the same. The problem seems to be that many of us (millennials) view “learning” as a very intentional (and arguably selfish) affair. I’m certainly victim to the big ideas and not enough craft dilemma but it’s because I want to master a craft if I’m driven to on a personal level, and that drive entirely comes from having a clear vision of the big picture—confidence that my efforts today won’t lead to another future in which social good is at the bottom of the priority list, and profit is at the top. This attitude won’t work well in the average entry-level position, but it’s often our only entry point. I’ve been lucky enough to receive an education and professional mentors who encourage me to go long with my big ideas, which in turn makes me want to be accountable. Not an easy environment to create but much gratitude to those who’ve done it. —Jihii
Tumblr’s Advertising Strategy
Digiday’s Josh Sternberg gets to the bottom of Tumblr’s Ad strategy, one that attempts to deliver value to brands without pissing off Tumblr’s community:
For years, David Karp, Tumblr’s CEO, has professed his disdain for advertising. That’s now changing. But he’s now wagering that Tumblr can essentially opt out of the overall Internet ad system thanks to its size and influence.
Tumblr is betting advertisers will be taken with its impressive reach. According to ComScore, Tumblr had 58 million uniques in March 2012 (more than double what its tally in March 2011). It also boasts a passionate, young user base receptive to a Tumblr-specific ad system that operates outside of the industry’s standard display ad formats.
“The overall thesis of what we’re trying to do is empower and highlight interesting creative advertising,” said Derek Gottfrid, Tumblr’s vp of product. “It’s not meant for the direct-response crowd.”
That’s why it has set a $25,000 minimum for buying placement in “Radar,” the space Tumblr reserves on user dashboards to highlight interesting Tumblr accounts. The bet is this placement can act in a similar fashion as Twitter’s “promoted” ad products.
Tumblr is rolling the dice on being able to opt out of the regular ad system. Advertisers won’t be able to easily marry their Tumblr campaigns with what they’re doing on other sites. Tumblr is also pushing its own set of metrics for success — number of reblogs, replies to posts, likes, number of new followers — in addition to impressions. This typically doesn’t go over well with brands since it makes it harder to evaluate how their campaigns are performing. There’s even grumbling about these problems with Facebook….
Essentially, brands can’t re-use the same IAB compliant ad creative they use to buy ad space on publications such as the NYTimes.com, CNN.com, Vogue.com, ESPN.com, etc. So there’s a cost to producing unique ad creative for a single media platform.
Gottfrid’s argument: digital advertising has made great strides in direct response, but Tumblr believes advertising in social is lacking. Google AdWords hasn’t been a great place for creative. Twitter has momentum but is not a place for creative storytelling. Same with Facebook. Tumblr is trying to tap into the creativeness that thrives on the platform and also let its users interact with brands in a creative way….
Agreed. Online everyone seems to be fixated on direct response rather than building brand awareness.
Packages start at $25,000 and brands that buy in can highlight one of its posts — typically images or text, but all post types (quotes, links, chats, audio and video) are available to be to be included in the Radar — so that users will see, and then hopefully share the content. As of now, there are four members of the ad sales team, and the company hopes to have about a dozen by the end of the year. It is also rolling out self-service tools for smaller marketers.
No ads will run on individual Tumblr pages, just the dashboard.
I think Twitter has a similar buy-in of about $15,000, which brands can then spend to:
- Scale followers (with Promoted Accounts)
- Extend reach (through Promoted Tweets)
- Ramp awareness (through Promoted Trends)
“We don’t see digital video restricted to the PC at all. Having said that, the real opportunity is in content. We are not thinking about the devices. We look at the content and then look at the platforms and devices for distribution. Programmatic buying will change the way we buy video. You may only be buying 5,000 consumers at a time. The upfront is about reaching a mass of consumers. I am not saying we are moving to a world without upfronts, I just mean that a lot of brands are beginning to understand it is about quality not quantity.”—Dave Martin, SVP Media at Ignited @ DigiDay Video Upfront
Celebrating the SAMMYs
Yesterday members of the BO.LT team attended the SAMMY Awards in New York City. The SAMMYs, presented by Digiday, honors excellence and achievement in Social Advertising, Media and Marketing in almost two-dozen award categories. We’re proud to have been nominated for Best Twitter Branding Campaign with our partners at Rickshaw Bagworks - alongside The New York Times and HBO’s True Blood. Even though we didn’t win, being mentioned in the same breath as such iconic brands is an amazing honor.
What made this campaign so special?
We partnered with Rickshaw Bagworks earlier this year. As a maker of custom messenger bags in San Francisco, they were struggling with a dilemma that might be familiar to many businesses: How do you bridge the divide between a beautifully designed static corporate website and the need for a more dynamic social environment found at destinations like Twitter or Facebook? You see, Rickshaw had been growing a loyal following, but the company was seeking a way to gain more awareness and increase sales of their custom messenger bags. Rickshaw had the idea of uploading images of each handmade bag to Twitpic and tweeting them out to their followers. However, the Twitpic pages offered a lackluster brand experience, even serving up ads for Rickshaw’s number one competitor.
Partnering with BO.LT in early 2011 allowed the bag makers to take their social strategy one step further. Using BO.LT’s technology the two companies developed a simple yet powerful way to transform a simple purchase transaction into a highly personalized social experience.
Gone are the generic Twitpic blue frame and competitors’ ads, replaced with Rickshaw branding and a video detailing how the bags are made, links to Rickshawbags.com and the company’s social networking pages. These additions close the loop and provide the viewer with a “return ticket” to Rickshaw. The addition of a call-to-action button to “Buy This Bag!” has helped to generate incremental sales for the company.
Customers are now involved in the entire creation of their bag. It’s not just a purchase - it’s an inclusive experience that has enhanced brand perception. It’s a way to turn the formerly secluded process of online shopping into a social event, rewarding customers for their creativity and thanking them for their purchase.
Just the Beginning
While we’re thrilled with the success of the Rickshaw campaign and the praise its garnered, we know that we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible. At BO.LT we believe that companies of all types, industries and sizes can use our technology to enhance the social experiences their customers are having with their products. This SAMMY Award nomination reminds us what’s possible and motivates us to keep innovating and take BO.LT to the next level. Having been honored amongst a host of agencies who did such outstanding work, we can only imagine how our platform will continue to provide a way for them to produce outstanding campaigns for clients in the future.
If you’d like to share a comment or offer an opinion, please do so below.
The Atlantic Tries Native Ads
Publishers are innovating in various ways across digital platforms. Digiday’s Josh Sternberg caught up with Jay Lauf, publisher of The Atlantic, to discuss how The Atlantic will generate digital revenue in the future:
The Atlantic, the venerable155-year-old publication, is doubling down on its approach to the new wave of digital advertising: native ads. Launched three years ago, Native Solutions creates ad programs that have the look and feel of The Atlantic’s content. The goal: help brands create and distribute engaging content by making the ads linkable, sharable and discoverable. For example, take a look at the work it did with Porsche on the image-heavy sponsored post, “Where Design Meets Technology,” which was shared 139 times on Facebook and 80 times on Twitter.
The Native Solutions programs has been so successful that it now accounts for half of digital ad revenue, which is up over 50 percent so far this year.
“A lot of people worry about crossing editorial and advertising lines, but I think it respects readers more,” Lauf said. “It’s saying, ‘We know what you’re interested in.’ It’s more respectful of the reader that way.”
Read the entire article at Digiday.
“The Tumblr argument is that Facebook has a certain utility for publishers, but it’s a network of people who know each other and not necessarily interested in the same thing. Twitter is a place to pump out content. Tumblr, on the other hand, is more of a network of people that don’t know each other but are interested in the same things. Tumblr’s pitch to publishers: that interest graph is more advantageous because a whole bunch of people, by following a publisher’s Tumblr, have shown they are interested in a publisher’s content.”—Is Tumblr a Must For Publishers? | Digiday
Integrated vs Branded Content
There’s a great article on Digiday today by Josh Sternberg, in which he explains why he thinks native advertising (a.k.a., branded entertainment) is here to stay. However, while OneScreen believes that branded entertainment can produce results when done successfully, it can be a difficult and costly learning curve for advertisers taking on content production for the first time. Integrated advertising, on the other hand, can serve as a stepping stone for advertisers, offering effective ways to engage and reach online audiences.
Integrated advertising is often less costly can prove to be more memorable than branded ads. In a recent OneScreen article that was published on MediaPost, we touched on an example of how to market burgers to young men with integrated ads.
For example, instead of producing an online mini-series to market burgers to young men, Carl’s Jr. could sponsor videos they’re already watching, such as snowboarding videos. Videos could include “this playlist is brought to you by Carl’s Jr.” on a page-takeover overlaid with Carl’s Jr. branding and ads. Carl’s Jr. could create more of a branded experience by funding content with snowboarders displaying the logo on their snowboards.
The beauty of this form of marketing is that it doesn’t require advertisers to completely reinvent their advertising strategies and learn a new medium. Integrated advertising has proven it can deliver engaging, non-intrusive experiences to audiences. Additionally, it’s important to not downplay the intelligence of audiences and crucial to avoid debacles like The Atlantic’s Scientology advertorial, as Sternberg points out. The “sponsored content” was a piece that was designed to look like an “article” but it was a paid-for-post that was made to look as similar as possible to the posts written by the editorial staff. In most instances, people can call a “fluff” piece from a mile away, and integrated advertising can help eliminate that awkwardness altogether.
Digiday’s article argues that there’s just more creativity in branded entertainment, but integrated advertising requires a lot of outside-of-the-box thinking, as well. In another OneScreen article that was recently posted on AdMonsters, we highlighted several innovative integrated ads.
I remember flipping through a print magazine by Condé Nast when a series of interviews with bar owners in New York talking about their favorite vodka cocktails caught my attention. And on the page preceding the interviews, there it was – a well-positioned ad for a bottle of Smirnoff Orange Twist.
Chase was successful in promoting its authority on financial responsibility by combining its branding with real money-saving advice from The Knot’s experts on choosing discount flowers, affordable color schemes, and saving on the biggest purchase of all – the wedding dress. And because they already had the reader thinking about paying for one of life’s most expensive events, the ability to sign up for a Chase credit card through the article was not far from reach.
You can read the Digiday piece here.
Overgeneralizing the Millennial Generation
This morning I read a Digiday article about ad executives’ experiences with young millennials. Their message is pretty clear: Millenials are spoiled kids who expect to be praised, aren’t complacent with simple technology, and live on social media. While some of these descriptions may be fit for certain individuals, it certainly doesn’t describe all.
Ad Exec False Description #1: “You have to give up so much more time to reviewing and patting them on the back. “
Although it’s never a pleasant experience, I appreciate it when my project supervisor would harshly criticize my work even when it came down the simplest grammatical error. The concept of “attention to detail” really became ingrained in my mind. I didn’t receive praise the majority of the time, she just showed me how my work could be better. That’s what growing is about, pushing yourself to be stronger and better. Not being complacent where you are. I knew if she constantly praised my work and changed it behind my back, I learn nothing.
Ad Exec False Description #2 We complain about being underpaid
Ummm, I work in advertising and I get paid a $8-10/hr?! To even get paid is blessing to me. I didn’t even know advertising internships paid…
Ad Exec False Description #3: “So they hop around, and we stop questioning why they only spent a short period of time in three gigs in three years“
My former boss told me that you need to spend at least 2 years at one gig, switching around looks bad. I wouldn’t job hop, I understand what that looks like to an employer. Not everyone wants to run from agency to agency. But I do agree that young employers should not treat their first gig like internships- longevity and stability are key to learning.
Ad Exec False Description #4: My one recent anecdote is when one of our new hires sent me an email requesting dual monitors and that one of them be a large one.
At one of my internships, I was super happy that I had Mac laptop when most interns had PCs. Even though it was old and always had problems, I would just ask IT to fix it. More recently, a newly hired coworker recommended I asked for a second monitor. While at times I could definitely see the benefits of having two of them, I don’t think 2 monitors is necessary to do my job, it just makes it easier. Shucks, I was glad I got a real computer over a laptop!
Ad Exec False Description #5: “It’s the attitude of “Hmm, I don’t really do [that task I was hired to do]. I’m more of a conceptual [role the person should be performing].”
I’ve definitely worked on minuscule projects that don’t require any skill and doesn’t help me grow as a strategist whatsoever but I take what my boss gives me. I’m happy that I’m not fetching their coffee or making copies.
Ad Exec False Description #6: At one point, I walked by his desk and saw Facebook on one monitor and Tweetdeck on another. I told him that he’s so good at social media that he’s totally unproductive.
Well I definitely fit this but I’m in digital strategy so I’m suppose to be on social media to do my job and it’s how I do research sometimes.
In conclusion, while Digiday has some merit in their assessments of millennials, it surely doesn’t describe everyone. I wouldn’t go the extreme AND call them millennial haters by any means. But there are definitely young employees who defy their descriptions. Just look at Forbes top 30 under 30. The talent is out there, you just have to dig through the crappy ones and find them.