A simple Google search reveals loads of information on the Internet about content marketing strategies, Millennials, and how the two are related. Some articles offer up great statistics and survey results on Millennial preferences, while others make suggestions on how to more effectively market to Generation Y consumers. But even though there's lots of talk, there's little information about why content marketing often fails to impress most Millennials. Here are the five most common reasons that Millennials ignore branded content.

1. It Looks Like an Ad

According to a survey done by Yahoo last year, Millennials will have around $1.4 trillion in spending power by 2020, which, along with marketers' desire to target younger consumers, makes them one of the largest and most important demographics for brands. When Millennials actually like an advertisement, they often share it with their friends and family. However, their willingness to engage with and share ads comes with a caveat. If an advertisement is explicitly sales-y, they're likely to ignore it.

If you have logos or calls to action plastered throughout your content, be it a photo, video or article, Millennials are often conditioned to speed right on by it, ultimately ignoring it and costing advertisers money.

"One of the keys to generating Millennial engagement with online content is to be genuine and position your brand as a relatable, human entity rather than a corporation," says Peter Greenblum, CEO of MessyMotors.com.

2. It's Unoriginal

The Internet and its culture basically belong to Millennials. They're the ones who create much of the viral content you see. They came of age documenting their lives through social networks. So, just as they've been conditioned to look past explicitly sales-y content, they've also cultivated the ability to recognize unoriginal content and will pass it up in a heartbeat. Sure, sometimes rehashed content--memes--are popular, and can work in certain situations, but for the most part, Millennials can tell when brands are repurposing content for the sake of promotion.

"The best way to catch the attention of Gen Y consumers is to come up with content that's entertaining and uniquely yours," says Greenblum. "Millennials tend to be more on the creative and fun-loving side and will appreciate branded content that is as well."

3. It's Boring

If you haven't already noticed, the online experience has become increasingly visual and increasingly brief. More often than not, digital content is served up in bite-sized pieces of photos or videos, thanks in large part to social media platforms such as Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, etc.

Millennials like content that they can learn from quickly and share with their friends--and then they like to move on to the next thing. As such, you should focus much of your content marketing efforts on short, highly shareable visual content. If you bore Millennials, you may find yourself on their list of brands to ignore.

4. It's Irrelevant

Along with hosting content that's becoming much more visual and much more brief, the Internet is also becoming much more personalized, thanks to new tracking and advertising technologies. As a result, Millennials have learned to ignore what's not relevant to their interests. According to the Yahoo content marketing study mentioned earlier, Millennials have higher expectations of content and much less patience. Because they lead busy digital lives and have access to more information across a variety of channels, they want their experiences to be quick, easy, and targeted. As a result, it's becoming much more important for marketers to consider segmenting their audiences and to try to deliver more targeted content to specific customers. If your content is irrelevant to your millennial customers, it might as well be invisible.

5. It's Deceptive

Gen Y consumers tend to be more receptive to sharing compelling content that targets them, unless it feels deceptive. In other words, content must deliver on its initial promise and be relevant to the environment it's hosted in. For example, if the piece of content is a native video advertisement on a sports news website, viewers would expect it to be relevant to sports news. If the video is about something else, say selling car insurance, Millennials will tend to ignore the ad and likely the company as a result.

Millennials are a large and seductive market. But surveys show that nearly half of all Millennials don't trust branded content. If you really want to connect with Gen Y, make sure your content marketing doesn't give Millennials any of reason to ignore it.

Published on: Aug 7, 2014