Much is said about Millennials in popular culture today. Some people are completely freaked out by them, while others are trying heartily to employ them. For many business owners, just getting them as customers is the goal. For media companies in particular, that is the question of the hour.
Just ask AOL's new president, Bob Lord. Stepping into that position in January, Lord has made capturing Millennials one of his top priorities. And he has his work cut out for him. As a whole, Millennials are cord cutters, commercial skippers, and ad blockers.
To reach this audience that's rarely five feet from their smartphones, AOL, the media conglomerate that owns The Huffington Post and TechCrunch, believes the solution lies in delivering improved mobile content.
At its Future Front event held Monday in New York City, Lord talked at length about AOL's latest play to draw in younger users, an app dubbed go90. The video streaming app and social network allows users to develop their own feeds of video content, as well as follow particular themes or the feeds of their friends. The content will be provided through partnerships: Verizon, AOL's parent company, has inked deals with 15 major cable networks, including MTV and Comedy Central, to provide videos for the app.
While media is a niche business, the strategy AOL is looking to employ sheds light on insights you can borrow to similarly attract this elusive audience. Here are three takeaways from the company's strategy to bring in Millennial users:
1. Get to know your audience.
In the past 18 months, AOL has acquired marketing analytics company Convertro and mobile ad network Millennial Media. The hope is to improve its advertising technology prowess to better cater to younger users. AOL also hopes to apply user data from Verizon to get a better handle on what makes Millennials tick. "We're starting to experiment to find out what works," Lord said.
2. Social interaction is key.
If there's one generalization that can be applied to Millennials, it's the seeming need to tell their friends about what they're up to--including what they're watching. Through go90, users can share clips they create on social media, comment on videos, and create "crews" to share and talk about videos they like. That social interaction also is valuable to advertisers, as increased sharing of videos allows them to reach a larger audience.
3. Put everything in one place.
The app, which Lord described as a "combination of Netflix, Snapchat, and Twitter," is a one-stop shop for watching videos and telling your friends about them. That convenience sets go90 apart from other streaming services, AOL executives say. Go90 also places all content of interest in one place, allowing people to choose which channels, shows, or fellow users will appear in their feed.