The millennial generation, the biggest in American history, is also one of the most baffling. Millennials are buying fewer cars, are shying away from credit cards and have all but given up on cable subscriptions and newspapers. Brands and legacy media companies are equally mystified.
That’s led to a rise of publishers, from Vice to BuzzFeed, claiming they can speak the lingua franca of millennials. Mic is one of those trying to crack the secrets of media for millennials. Founded in 2011 as Policy Mic, the site now boasts over 12 million unique visitors a month, according to comScore. The bet: old media is for old people.
“If you look at the numbers, cable news has been completely incapable of engaging anyone under the age of 30. Newspapers have struggled, too,” Mic CEO Christopher Altchek said in this week’s Digiday Podcast. “In news, they’ve had more trouble than any other space.”
Some edited highlights:
Millennials are shaking things up for companies across the board.
“When it comes to news, cable is a foreign language. If you’re a marketer or a media executive today and you’ve had the last 30 years where you’ve made billions of dollars off TV and radio and that’s suddenly gotten flipped on its head as this generation approaches peak-spending years, you’d be panicking.”
“Most of the models just haven’t been effective. Online advertising has been about interrupting users, and millennials have entirely rejected interruptive advertising online. We hate roadblocks, big flashy display ads and auto-play video. What’s been working the last 10 years just doesn’t work with the most important generation you need to reach online.”
Platforms are competing for exclusive content.
“At a high level, the increase in platforms over the last five years has made digital media brands much more valuable. Five years ago, it was all about Google search. Now, you have YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr. There’s serious competition among platforms to give users the best experience, so the platforms are competing for good content. The people who have good brands and good content are getting better treatment on these platforms.”
The future of digital distribution feels like cable.
“Mic doesn’t have to bring users back to Mic.com to win. We just need users consuming our content — it doesn’t really matter where. There could be a world where the majority of content is consumed through over-the-top devices and we’re getting paid a thousand times more than we’re getting paid today. Similar to Viacom getting paid through cable operators, who are the platforms of the past.”
When it comes to video, Twitter is still playing catch-up.
“We’re in the very early stages of Twitter video. It’s not reaching the scale that Facebook is for us, but we know it’s engaging a really core audience that we want to engage and have had a lot of success with.”
YouTube is for volume.
“To me, YouTube is more of a volume play, the same way that Google search is a volume play. The people who are really successful on YouTube consistently are the people who have a massive volume of content the same way that people who are successful on search were publishing 3,000 articles a day.”