How Digital Advertising for Brands Has Adapted to Millennials’ Mobile-First Mindset


Nearly 23 percent of the time Americans spend watching online video is spent watching ads.  In fact, digital ad spending is expected to reach over $93 billion USD by next year. As the e-commerce market continues to grow, many brands are thinking about shifting their marketing strategies to include more digital advertisement to maintain visibility with an increasingly mobile-first consumer base.

Many brands have already made the leap, believing  online video ads to be more effective than TV ads at building brand favorability and driving online sales. Believe it or not, they even increase foot traffic in stores. And now that the majority of brands and retailers are turning their focus at least partially to Millennial and Gen Z spending, we’re seeing digital ads evolve.

Social media has changed what it means to advertise digitally

Social media plays a major role in retail today. Reaching omnichannel consumers via the internet no longer means a 30-second spot on the sidebar of their favorite site or in the middle of a long YouTube video. Digital ads are experiencing a total revamp as platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat battle to capture the consumer’s fleeting attention span. So, as a brand today, how exactly do you engage younger consumer audiences in more meaningful ways? 

Brands are connecting with their consumers through stories

We recently talked about how Facebook’s new ‘Collections’ venture allows consumers to shop directly on the platform (much like Instagram’s ‘Buy Now’ button), but what about the other ways in which these consumers are utilizing the platform and others like it?

In the past several years, social media ‘stories’ have revolutionized the way we connect with our audience. Brands can now humanize their company to followers by sharing an off-the-cuff, behind-the-scenes look at their daily lives. Influencers have never seemed more down-to-earth and authentic. And consumers? They’ve never felt more connected.

45 percent of users say they post Snapchat stories on a weekly basis, whereas 64 percent view them (compared to the 21 percent who post and 46 percent who view Instagram stories on a weekly basis). This leaves brands an opportunity to capture the attention of Snapchat’s 200 million daily active users worldwide, taking part in the eight billion mobile videos viewed per day on the app. Instagram experiences about the same ratio of active versus passive engagement.

While some brand owners may scoff at these numbers (hey, Snapchat’s not for everybody), those hoping to attract Millennial or Gen Z audiences understand the significance. It should be noted that when speaking of ‘stories’, I’ve put an emphasis on Snapchat rather than other platforms here for a couple reasons. Craft brands posting stories on Instagram are unlikely to get the views they hope for as they’re competing with hundreds of other stories, many of which are placed way before them in a time-based queue. No matter how much a consumer may love your brand, producing great and engaging video content is only half the battle on a platform like Instagram, which automatically uploads every users’ story in a consumer’s feed. This can be problematic because the average number of people one person follows on Instagram is a whopping 822. This makes it very easy for a brand to get lost amongst the steady stream of friends, family, influencers, and other brands uploading content.

On Snapchat, the following process is generally more selective and usually kept to a few dozen. This makes it more likely for a consumer to tune in to watch your content before they’ve forgotten you exist.

Consumers are now tuning in for live content

Just when we were all getting used to the idea of posting pieces of our lives in 24-hour snippets, ‘live stories’ came to be. Brands can use this to their advantage as well. After all, what’s a more cost-effective way to persuade an audience to focus solely on you? Brands shouldn’t be intimidated by a live feed, but see them as an opportunity to offer their consumers content that might not fit anywhere else in their marketing strategy. Things like product launches, Q & As, event promotion, and tutorials.

Facebook recently shared in a blog post that people typically “spend more than three times more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live.” And on a platform with 1.1 billion daily active users, you’re sure to reach a much larger audience. Furthermore, Facebook’s algorithm gives priority to live videos in the News Feed, making this content much more likely to be seen by your followers than a regular status post or photograph.

Finally, unlike other platforms, Facebook offers privacy filters, allowing you to better target your audience and providing them with relevant content.

Still not convinced? Think of it this way: your influencers are probably employing most, if not all of the above tactics and platforms to connect with the same audience. This is the mobile-first mindset, where Millennials consume content through a smartphone screen about 87 percent of the time.

Whether you see this as “advertising” or as a means to better engage your consumers, video is where it’s at. The new era of commerce must react to the value of consumers’ coveted ‘screen-time’ – whether it’s a retail app, an e-commerce site or a brand’s social media. It’s your responsibility to find the best avenue for you to properly engage your audience. And if your audience consists of Millennials and Gen Zers, the choice is obvious.

Dayana Cadet

Dayana Cadet

Dayana’s love affair with writing spans all manner of content. As the Content Specialist at Hubba, connecting people to the things they love is where she thrives.

Follow her at @D_isforDayana
Dayana Cadet