American Millennials Accept Mobile Advertising, Want Empowerment

Topic: Media, Mobile Marketing | Author: Peggy Anne Salz | Date: September 28, 2010

american youthIn part two of this virtual round table we connect with three American digital natives to gain insights into the precise kind of interaction they want to have with brands on their mobile phones. And we also learn what they don’t want.

What brands top their list? Our guests Dawn Gutowski, Michael Ayoola and Sandra Perez share an eclectic list of brand names ranging from Land Rover to Godiva chocolate to Infusium 23 hair care products.

The point: these millennials are open to hearing from a lot of brands and actually regret they aren’t receiving more information from the brands they have made a part of their daily lifestyle.

And it’s not just about cool consumer brands.

Michael would welcome more interaction with Amazon and Sandra wouldn’t mind telling Everlast more about her interests – especially if her input could some how impact product development.

Put another way, these millennials are interested in being heard more by the brands they love most.

Listening in, talking back

dawn gutowskiAs Dawn put it: A mobile dialogue with her favorite brands would give her confidence that they were really listening. “I know on Facebook you can comment [on companies], but it seems like they wouldn’t read it anyway because it’s thousands of people commenting. I think it would be cool to have people that could interact back because then they hear what I have to say …and then maybe they can tailor their products to more what I want.

In Michael’s view, this interaction would effectively reward fans for being brand advocates. It should be done in a way that allows “people who really care about the product to actually have direct contact.”

And what would motivate him to engage in a conversation with his favorite brand?

In a word: information.

michael ayoola“I always love being in the know, especially knowing before everybody else does.  My friends call me ‘Mr Exclusive’ because I’m always trying to learn what’s coming out before the mainstream or before anybody knows about it. So I would definitely love to be part of a [mobile advertising] service like that.” What’s more, Michael would prefer text messages on his phone because he would always have them when he needed them most. “Then if a person asks me what’s the newest Sony TV coming out, I’ll just be able to tell them because I just got a text message on my phone.  I think it’s very convenient.”

Make me popular

All three digital natives what to receive mobile advertising – and they want to be able to turn it off when they want.

sandra perezIronically, these millennials would only turn off spam. Sandra, for example, would gladly accept as many as three messages per day from the brands she loves. Those messages could range from asking her input on a product or a service to rewarding her loyalty with an exclusive offer.

Dawn doesn’t mind a message per day per brand. In fact, she would be excited to get them (!).

As she puts it: “I like it when my phone is busy. I like getting text messages and stuff on my phone. So I’d be excited….It’s kind of like opening a present.”

My take:

Once again we come to the end of a no-holds barred conversation with digital natives that underlines the importance of empowerment. They want messages from the brands they like – and they want a mechanism to ensure that these messages are relevant and related to what they think is important. Put another way, these millennials want brands to ask them first – and they are fine with volunteering information that will ensure they receive more personalized advertising. Another point to note: a sincere interest in providing input to brands and being sure it counts. All three millennials think it is cool to be part of an in-crowd that has a direct channel to the brand – to provide ideas, feedback and also be the first to know about new products or services.

Listen to the podcast here. [15:20]


Editor’s note: We take a break next week for the Mobile Marketing Forum in London – which I will be attending, so please connect with me directly (, if you want to meet up there.

Next on our virtual tour of the world is India.

To identify these millennials – and all digital youth in this series –  I tapped the resources of the Market Advantage Youth Lab, an innovative primary research program managed by Alcatel-Lucent. Its ongoing and global research looks to understand how users (teens to adults) around the world experience marketing across all the screens they use (mobile phones, televisions, computers). I developed the questions, conducted the interviews and look forward to working with the researchers as I organize virtual roundtables around the world.


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