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Here’s Why Millennials Prefer Native Advertising

By Charlotte Otremba on February 21, 2019

Millennials make up a quarter of the US population and have 200 billion to spend on the products and services they love, but traditional advertising won't work on them. Here's why you need to make the switch to native.


Advertisers: Millennials aren’t putting up with your B.S. They make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population, they've got money to spend, but they're looking for a trusted source to tell them where and what to spend it on. They grew up at the same time as the internet and look at it like a younger sibling: trustworthy, to a point.

The current stats point to only one kind of advertising that millennials can trust: native. The fact of the matter is, millennials prefer native advertising. They don't even care if it says sponsored. Really. Here's why native advertising is the only strategy that will work to engage millennials, why banner ads won't cut it, and how to marry that with a content strategy. (Hint: thought leadership and authenticity are key).

RELATED: Study: does the type of label influence readers’ evaluations of native ads?

Why should you cater to millennials?

There are roughly 83 million millennials running around ordering iced coffees and eating avocado toast, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and they make up a quarter of the total U.S. population. That’s a lot of millennials. They are two-fifths of the working age population (Brookings) and they have about $200 Billion to spend (Forbes). They’re also more discerning when compared to generations before them: they grew up at the same time the internet did, so they can both understand and appreciate its vastness and its abilities and its shortcomings - and they’re not going to put up with any false pretenses. If somebody tries to fool them, to them it’s like a younger sibling trying to put on a new accent. Chill, we’re not putting up with your B.S.

How to reach millennials

So in the land of online advertising, what does this mean? First of all, 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising at all (Hubspot) - which goes back to that B.S. detector. Flashy, obnoxious banner ads won’t cut it, nor will any forced attempt to make you buy a product. Authenticity is key. Millennials prefer a story and experience over things for things’ sake, and - in a time where the number of choices can just seem overwhelming - a trusted source to help them sift through the masses. That source can be a friend, a favorite influencer, or content from a perceived expert. Consider:

  • Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts, who happen to be strangers, than advertisements. –Hubspot
  • And 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites. - Hubspot
  • 83% of millennials believe online content is very useful in helping them make purchasing decisions. - IAB.


So: Content that offers advice, reviews, an achievable “look” or “vibe” or a credible assessment of trends is preferred over a basic advertisement. Read: High-quality, thoughtful content (like a blog post or article) from an expert. But here’s the kicker. Millennials don’t care if that expert content is sponsored. An expert is an expert. That’s right: Only 9% of millennial respondents said they'd immediately ignore a post if they found it was sponsored (BusinessInsider).

What?! So what is the kind of advertising you can do? First, establish your brand as a thought leader. Next, deliver that message with Native Advertising  Done. Direct your millennial consumers to trusted content with ads that match the form and feel of the site they’re already on. It doesn’t even matter that it says “Sponsored by” (see above). If the headline and image offer a clue to what’s in store on the other side of the click, they’re going to engage with it. Ready for more stats?

  • 85% of millennials say in-feed Native Ads are the same or better than the other content on the page - IAB
  • 58% of millennials think publishers should only use Native Ads - IAB
  • 1 in 5 millennials says they exclusively read headlines - IAB.

RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to Reaching Millennials with Native Advertising


Not only do millennials prefer Native Ads, they also trust them. Native Ads convey a positive, authoritative (in a good way) source that says “Here’s what I know. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check it out if you want.” I mean: 48% of millennials believe that brands that use in-feed native ads are interested in establishing a positive relationship with them, according to That’s huge! Who even knows if they could say that about the last person they swiped right on?

So, the bottom line is: to win over millennials, you’ve got to stick with creating high-quality content with Native Advertising as your strategy to bring it to them. Advertisers have to be high on expert advice, low on B.S. Millennials prefer a story over a statement. Native Ads are just the ticket.