Ask millennials what the potential drawbacks of the Internet are, and surprisingly, you may find that annoying Internet ads don’t make the top of the list. Among 18-34s, 33% of agree at lot that too much personal information is collected online, while 28% says Internet ads are annoying, per UM Media in Mind.

In the consumer’s eye, the one thing worse than annoying Internet ads is the that too much personal information is held online when it comes to online marketing.

There are two unexpected features about these two consumer responses:

  1. These high numbers are nothing new. We started tracking ‘too much information is collected online’ in 2012 and it was at the identical level, 33%. Indeed, we’ve been looking at ‘Internet ads are annoying’ since 2009 and if anything the ‘agree a lot’ percentage is trending down slightly from 31% in 2009 to 28% we see today.
  2. Millennials are not trailblazers in this area, they are anear mirror-image of the general population’s sentiments. Among adults 18+, the levels that ‘agree a lot’ with these two notions are within 2 percent points of the Under 35’s numbers.

Why 18-34s May Help Marketers Unlock the Online Ad Solution

While younger adults might outwardly find Internet advertising annoying, framing the issue differently reveals quite a different perspective. Not only do 18-34s embrace online media, compared to older generations, they can also be open to certain types of online marketing.

To illustrate, here’s a map comparing men 18-34 to women 18-34 with 25 leading statements about the Web, in chart below.

Let’s focus on the top right hand quadrant of this map. These scores are indices vs all adults, where any statement in the top right quadrant is well above the all adult norm of 100, indicating a highly distinctive trait for millennials. Highlighted in red are all the statements which, arguably, are relevant to developing online marketing that can resonate with consumers.

At the very top right-hand part of the quadrant are three positive statements related to online marketing:

  1. I’m interested in ads on (social) networking sites
  2. (The Internet) allows me to stay in contact with brands I like
  3. I think more positively about companies with social networking pages

The average index score across both genders for these three statements is 193 – they are nearly double the scores of the general population.

Slightly further in to the quadrant, there are some more qualified attitudes:

4. I expect brands to respond to comment
5. I often rate and review products (and services)
6. I only speak to brands if they are giving something for free.

This last point, No. 6, has a slightly male bias, however women also have their own preferences. In the lower left quadrant, young women agree with a statement:

  1. If shopping, I try to buy on the web (first).

In addition, the map also points to some other key strategic options for marketers with high scoring assertions such as:

  1. I’m more likely to ‘friend’ a non-profit
  2. When I watch TV, I use social networking.

The former of these indicates a possible route via cause marketing. The latter point suggests social TV marketing and product integrations into TV programs may be a route for some.

It’s Dialogue Marketing, Not Business As Usual

Overall, online advertising and marketing is far from a closed door with millennials. Nevertheless, many of the attitudes we see here do imply that web marketing will often be more readily received if the online communication is a two-way street. Those in the 18-34s demographic see online as a way to stay in touch with brands: They can review and rate products, they can friend a non-profit, and they expect a response to their comments.

The future of online marketing and advertising is not business as usual. For online advertising to be much more accepted by the consumer, it has to become truly interactive every step of the way, and increasingly we need to recognize the online-marketing conversation most definitely works both ways.