Study: The Millennial Perspective on Native Ads

on Millennial, Content Marketing

Millennials Are The Future

Much has been said about the ever-buzzworthy “Millennial.”

Making up one quarter of the entire US population, Millennials are a massive segment — there are 75.3 million of them in the US — with enormous spending power that has reached $1.3 trillion annually.

With their eyes and thumbs glued to their phones, Millennials practically live online, spending nearly 18 hours a day with different types of media, albeit some of it simultaneously.

They’re a generation of early adopters, with just enough life experience to influence the direction of trends, while being young and open enough to the ever-changing landscape of technology to not be stuck in their ways — at least not yet.

TL;DR: What's important to Millennials today will be embraced by everyone tomorrow.

For these reasons and more, brands and advertisers are hungry for Millennial data and eager to understand this elusive, yet essential segment.

"A generation raised on the Internet​ is the most fickle of brand champions: it loves something passionately, until it doesn’t. Then it moves on." - Joshua Topolsky, Vox

Enter The Millennial Mind

In a new study, we’ve discovered some insights that explain what type of advertising experience Millennials appreciate most and when they admit to being influenced by in-feed native ads.

“Life is like a newsfeed. You never know what you’re gonna get.”


We surveyed 300 Millennials in Q4 2015 to understand their unique attitudes, behaviors and perceptions towards digital advertising.

Key Findings

So, what do Millennials care about when it comes to digital advertising?

First and foremost: it’s all about the experience.

User experience is paramount to Millennials, who said that a good ad experience is key to a better overall online experience. A good user experience is essential for a generation coming of age at a time where mobile devices and high-speed Internet have taken over.

Spend time on the most popular publishers and social networks, and it’s easy to see why that’s where Millennials are spending their time. Well-designed mobile apps and fast-loading websites come complete with instantaneous, unexpected results. As a Millennial colleague of mine recently joked, “Life is like a newsfeed. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Millennials want ads that don’t disrupt the user experience.
• Of Millennials that use ad blocking software, 64 percent said they use ad blockers because they felt ads were disruptive or made a site look cluttered

Millennials say feeds are the primary way they discover content online.
• 91 percent of Millennials discover content while browsing social or content feeds, as compared to just 8 percent via search and 2 percent from direct sharing such as email.

Millennials consider credibility, trustworthiness and timeliness to be the three most important qualities of a content feed.

Headlines play a critical role in the user experience of a feed.
• 80 percent of Millennials believe headlines should be informative
• 1 in 5 Millennials say that they only read the headlines when browsing social or content feeds

Millennials believe that in-feed native ads are a good user experience and preferable to any other type of digital advertising.
• 80 percent of Millennials say in-feed native ads are a good user experience
• 44 percent of Millennials say that in-feed native ads improve their perception of the publisher, site or app

Millennials prefer videos to play instantly in a feed.
• 79 percent of Millennials said that a video that plays automatically in the feed is convenient

Headlines play a complementary role in the user experience of watching brand videos in feeds.
• 70 percent of Millennials acknowledge reading the headline while watching the video

In-feed native ads can influence brand perception and impact future purchase behavior.
• 48 percent of Millennials say that brands that used in-feed native ads are interested in establishing a positive relationship with them
• 38 percent of Millennials say in-feed native ads make them more likely to purchase the brand featured in the content


No one would disagree that a good user experience online is important. For Millennials, it’s essential. Millennials have come into the world at a pivotal time where the Internet, apps and mobile devices usurped IRL experiences faster than anyone anticipated.

As Joshua Topolsky, a co-founder of Millennial publisher Vox and popular technology site The Verge, recently said in a New Yorker piece: "A generation raised on the Internet​ is the most fickle of brand champions: it loves something passionately, until it doesn’t. Then it moves on."

So, for marketers and publishers alike, take the user experience of your ads seriously - it only takes seconds to lose a lifetime of brand loyalty.

Further, know that the headline has now become the new branding vehicle of the mobile era - the same amount of thought and care that historically went into writing a company's tagline must now go into their headline creation process.