What the Inevitable Millennial Takeover Reveals About YouTube Marketing Opportunities in 201813 min read


Warning: this may ruin your existing video marketing plan.

Imagine you’re at work—project management to-do list and Slack app open on your laptop, while the real estate on your monitor is crowded with note taking/blogging apps, spreadsheets, and marketing automation software. You have a good system for getting things done, and that’s important because your boss depends on you and your team looks up to you. But you know there’s always room for improvement.

This week you’re determined to dedicate a couple hours to researching attribution reporting tools so you can consolidate ROI reporting across your marketing campaigns. You’re also seeking tips for a stronger SEO and content strategy going into the new year.

Naturally, your search starts on Google. You type variations of “attribution reporting tools”. You find a few apps that seem like they might do the trick, but it’s kinda hard to tell if the usability is up to your standards. So you click a few video reviews and end up on YouTube. You watch product videos and user reviews to conduct deeper research on the specific features that will help your team. While watching a review, you are served an in-stream video ad about growth marketing and SEO tactics for 2018. You click the ad to watch and learn about this offer – it was on your list already, anyway!

You get off work around 6 pm and jet home, arriving just in time to rewatch that quick recipe you learned on YouTube to whip up for your date tonight. Everything goes as planned, and before you know it, you two are snuggling up and sharing music videos, and the latest entertaining clips, on the largest video search engine in the world.

If this scenario feels foreign to you, you probably live under a rock. The mass adoption of YouTube in our daily lives – especially the lives of Millennials – is indisputable. YouTube is quickly surpassing Google as a Millennial go-to. In fact, the number of YouTube videos watched per minute now surpasses the number of Google searches completed per minute.

Marketing Millennial: What happens online in 1 second

What’s clear now is that there are some persistent trends that Millennials – otherwise known as Gen Y, Next Generation, or Millie’s – are perpetuating which you can no longer afford to ignore. As interaction with video grows across our personal and professional lives, YouTube stands out as the premier search engine to learn anything, anywhere, anytime with video – and marketers are taking note of YouTube’s magnetic force. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.

Marketing Millennial: 4 times as many people prefer video to text

What Does Millennial Behavior on YouTube Tell Us?

This wouldn’t be a blog post by a Millennial, about Millennials, if I didn’t mention the reputation that precedes us. There’s an undeniable aversion to Millennials maintained by so many wiser generations and it’s often for good reason. We’ve all heard the knocks on the Gen-Y crowd:

  • Selfish
  • Self-important
  • Self-aggrandizing
  • Selfie-loving

And so on…

Marketing Millennial: Self-focused

Unfortunately, we’ve earned the reputation of a generation that believes the world revolves around us and that we have something unique and important to contribute – always. As Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott so eloquently puts it, “the notion [is that Millennials are] a spoiled, entitled legion of precious snowflakes who expect prizes just for showing up, pout when they’re insufficiently petted, and never go anywhere without slathering on creamy layers of self-esteem.”

Although Millennials seem to do a remarkable job of getting on everybody’s nerves, data around Millennial habits on YouTube may ultimately point to some redeeming qualities.

Millennials Are Self-Starters and Doers

Despite their reputation as lazy loafers who wait for recognition to come to them, more and more, we’re seeing Millennials turn to YouTube to find directions and tutorials to expand their skill set and better themselves.

Marketing Millennial use YouTube to learn

According to a 2016 Google study, a whopping 93% of Millennials go to YouTube to learn how to do something and they are 2.7X as likely to prefer to learn something new on YouTube compared to reading a book.

So yes… we have a silly amount of “participation” ribbons, but it was our parents that refuse to get rid of those. And maybe we learned to do laundry in college. But as we mature into adulthood, our behaviors show that we care to be autonomous as we turn to video to self-educate, learn new things, and solve problems. And on YouTube we find the instant content on any topic to be very valuable!

According to a 2017 survey, the number one reason we turn to YouTube is to fix stuff! That’s followed closely by the desire to be entertained, to learn to do something new, or satisfy a curiosity.

Millennials Seek Authenticity and Meaning

Millennials are known for despising anything contrived and tend to gravitate toward experiences over things. And that is just what YouTube offers — an experience. It’s the video ecosystem that’s available to anyone with internet access who wants to expand their understanding of the world, their skillset, or just have a good laugh.

Millennials go to YouTube because they trust the relatively unpolished videos they watch that are created by others, just like them. YouTube creator content and authentic branded content on YouTube is seen as providing a valuable experience that in turn cultivates a feeling of belonging to those of us who browse.

Also, having grown up with YouTube, Millennials find YouTube videos to be more relatable (as well as more positive) than TV! According to one study, 62 percent of survey respondents said digital video content makes them “feel good” about themselves and only 40 percent reporting the same for TV.

So this is what YouTube trend data says about Millennials—but what do Millennial habits say about YouTube, and why your marketing strategy can’t afford to ignore it?

The Hard (and Honest) Truth About the Future of Marketing

Before we get to YouTube, we should lay the foundation and make the case for video marketing as a whole.

Video is THE Main Disruptor in 2018

We all can see the gravitation toward video traffic on our favorite platforms. Pundits project that this year, 69 percent of all web traffic will be video, a clear indicator of the continued demand for this form of content. We witness the growing presence of video on Instagram and Facebook feeds, LinkedIn, and publisher websites – wherever you turn, video will be there.

Most marketers surveyed in HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Marketing Report cited video as the main disruptor in 2018. Qualitative responses from over 6,000 survey respondents were selected to represent the sentiment of modern marketers. Among these were voices of cautious optimism,

“Many see video as a great channel to better connect with a prospect, while others fret that video will make their day jobs obsolete.”

Yet despite any hesitations, marketers are full steam ahead with prioritizing video in their marketing strategy in 2018. And guess which platform leads the way? Yup – YouTube.

Other marketers view video as the connecting force between their brand and customers. This is in part due to the nature of a generation of self-educators and the voracious appetite of Millennials to consume video content to learn about the products, services and even software they buy.

ROI polling only further supports the cause for video in marketing. Marketers who use video report it to be their top revenue-driving channel. This seems to resonate well with the recent finding by HubSpot that 64 percent of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video.

The returns and long-tail benefits of video are especially notable when a company distributes and promotes its videos on YouTube.

Although more videos are watched on YouTube per minute than searches performed on Google, YouTube still tails Google as the second largest search engine for now. But when it comes to video content hosting, promotion, and searchability, YouTube is second to none. Long-term discoverability through search separates YouTube from the gaggle of other social platforms. While Facebook is competing for viewer attention, they don’t have a widely adopted way to search and maintain video content. This makes YouTube far and away the most obvious platform for video hosting and content longevity.

Millennials love YouTube

Still other marketers argue that the shift to video is a natural evolution, and only those resistant should be concerned.

“Video is just going to get bigger and bigger. I think more people want raw, honest connection. They want to know you and the company in a way that feels personal. I don’t see this as a disruption, but it might be for those who aren’t willing to shift in this direction.”

Millennials Are THE (Work) Force to Be Reckoned With

As a generation whose numbers surpass 84 million in the United States alone, those of us born between 1982 and 2004 make up 31 percent of the adult U.S. population and just over a third (34 percent) of the U.S. workforce. By 2025 it’s estimated that we’ll make up three-quarters of the global workforce – yikes!

Regardless of the beliefs you hold toward those known as Generation-Y, as we grow up, we accrue more buying power in our personal and professional lives. This year, Millennials even became the largest group of home buyers, and more than 16 million are now moms. We’re also beginning to hold more influential roles in the workplace, which means we’ll be the targets of future B2B ad campaigns.

Let’s face it, the Millennial takeover is inevitable and your marketing needs to speak to them.

A fellow Millennial at Google sums up the marketing opportunity like this: “Now [that Millennials are] making big life decisions they so famously delayed—getting married, having children, buying a home—it’ll be that much more important for brands marketing to millennials to connect with them authentically.”

And what’s the most authentic and trafficked platform that Millennials frequent? YouTube. When you do the math, it’s clear to see the most successful video marketing campaigns will be those that connect with Millennials as individuals on the platforms they already trust and live on.

YouTube Isn’t Going Anywhere. Usage of YouTube has gone up steadily year over year. Here are some recent stats to cull any skeptics.

I could go on and on listing stats about how YouTube is a cornerstone of modern life, but hang on. I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that YouTube marketing requires greater sophistication and tact than some of the more marketer-friendly platforms, like Facebook or Instagram. It will take work to produce authentic content that truly connects with Gen-Y. You’ll need the proper tools to ensure the right viewer is seeing your content on YouTube. However, the rewards are vast.

Google estimates that attention paid to video ads on YouTube was 1.8X higher than on other social media platforms. And marketers using video are growing revenue 49 percent faster than those that aren’t.


We’re hosting a 15-minute YOUTUBE LIVE event to help fast-track your ability to attract virtual prospects from YouTube. Join us here: Your Antidote to YouTube Video Marketing Ignorance.


These trends haven’t gone unnoticed by brands either. Ad spending on YouTube is projected to reach $26 billion by 2020, up 66 percent from $9 billion in 2016. This is money well invested to secure the attention of the generation poised to be the largest consumer and workforce demographic this world has ever seen!


Millies continue to choose YouTube as their favorite pastime and the marketers that deliver educational, authentic, and meaningful content on YouTube will be the triumphant ones in this video-first world. It’s a platform that is growing with and for our generation.

As a marketer, you’re missing the biggest video marketing revenue opportunity if you aren’t connecting with Millennials on YouTube. So if you haven’t already, you should study the trends and consider how to incorporate videos, especially on YouTube, into your marketing strategy. Jumpstart your journey by joining our YouTube Live event.

Lastly, video fluency is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after skills in marketing today. As video begins to consume the marketer’s role while Millennials become the majority of the workforce, your experience with YouTube marketing becomes more and more attractive. To all marketers that elect to willfully ignore the value and demand for video on YouTube by the incumbent generation…RIP.

What’s Next?

We want to take you deeper into understanding YouTube as a performance marketer. Join our webinar, Your Antidote to YouTube Video Marketing Ignorance, to learn more. There are a few things that may surprise you.

We’ll cover:

  • How to understand your customers viewing habits on YouTube
  • How to see where you stack up against competitors
  • Strategies that have worked for top acquisition marketers to catch quality prospects in the wild
  • How to capture the attention of your best customers on the world’s most powerful video search engine