The argument that millennials — the savviest of the tech-consuming generations — ignore traditional forms of advertising and can be hooked only by digital ads is apparently a losing one. Recent polling by Adroit Media paints a mixed message about the effectiveness of traditional advertising on millennials, but it also revealed one truth that can’t be ignored by marketers: in the sea of computers, tablets, phablets, and smartphones, television is still king as an advertising medium.

An April 15 post on detailed Adroit Media’s January survey of millennial smartphone users, which explored the effectiveness of traditional advertising versus digital ads. Not surprisingly, 36 percent of the 18-to-34 age group told the survey conductors that digital advertising was more influential. But very surprisingly, nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said traditional advertising was either more influential than digital ads, or equally as influential.

And the best news from the poll for gray-flannel-suited traditionalists on Madison Avenue was that, while digital advertising ranked higher for establishing brand identity than almost all forms of traditional advertising, millennials surveyed said television ads were the most influential when it came to perceiving or valuing brands. A whopping 70 percent said TV advertising was most effective in branding and message, compared to 60 percent for social media ads, 42 percent for online display marketing, and 39 percent for online video. Television’s position of influence perhaps inflated the survey results for all traditional advertising, as some 28 percent of millennials said traditional ads were as influential as digital ads, as opposed to the 36 percent favoring digital ads cited above. Yet, print ads (magazine and billboard) and radio ads ranked at the bottom in terms of influence.

However, while digital advertising is said by millennials to be more influential than traditional marketing, there are signs that the age group has become immune to the form, and that it takes something special to catch their collective eye. According to, more than half of the 18-to-34-year-olds surveyed for a Harris Interactive poll in January said they ignore online banner ads, and more than 40 percent said they pay no attention to social media or search engine advertising. Compare those numbers to the fewer than 30 percent, who said they pay no attention to television or radio commercials, and it appears broadcast marketing still has some teeth to it.


eMarketer. Traditional or Digital Ads? Millenials Show Mixed Feelings. April 15, 2014.