How To Reel In The Elusive 18-34-Year-Old Man

By: Margaret Firalio

Media Post-- Okay, before you get any ideas, no, I’m not going “there.” Not really, anyway. I’m talking about how to effectively market to what is considered a very non-traditional direct response TV (DRTV) advertising target: males between the ages of 18 and 34.

This sports-loving, beer-guzzling demographic is commonly perceived to be at the top of advertisers’ most-desired list. Whether or not this is (or should be) the case, over the past decade or so it has been documented that these guys are becoming increasingly harder to locate. It’s not that they aren’t watching TV -- they are doing a lot of other things too such as going online, watching DVDs, and playing video games.

So can 18- to-34-year-old men still be found via television, a medium that is approaching 100 years of age? And more importantly, can we get them to respond to DRTV’s alluring charms? As I have seen firsthand, the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “yes.” And, perhaps not coincidentally, the means to our success is not so different than those of highly successful daters.

As an example I’ll cite a rental-service company we partnered with that deals in something the testosterone-laden target male group covets: video games. Attracting our targets is always easier when you are able to showcase the right assets -- and this company unquestioningly has them. Armed with a compelling commercial, we were ready to cut to the chase.

Our first step was to ensure that our ads were showing up in precisely the locations where those-hopefully-receptive-to-our-message men hang out. In the dating world, outdated logic says a good man can be found in your local house of worship or grocery store. Today, we’d be better off hitting the sports bar. So how do you find the equivalent of the sports bar in the world of DRTV?

Not the traditional networks. Outside of Family Guy, the weekend sporting events and late-night mixed martial arts programming, the “Big Four” networks don’t have a whole lot of what appeals to our target. In fact, you could make the case that these networks are now more like the aforementioned pews or produce sections. No -- the real sports bars of DRTV are the cable networks, or more specifically, the niche networks, of which there is a seemingly endless supply. Don’t believe me? Would Fox really be thinking about creating a 24/7 Simpsons channel if this wasn’t true? For our rental service client, we strutted our stuff directly atop the beer-soaked pub tables of Adult Swim, Comedy Central and MTV.

So now that we’re parading in the right places, will our target pay attention and respond? If we’re handing out phone numbers, not necessarily. That’s a more conventional approach, and for males 18-34, it’s hit or miss. Nowadays, this demographic is more apt to text than to call. So for our client, we performed a “text to mobile” test and saw a great response. One could even say we had to beat the boys off with a stick.

Of course, once they’re genuinely interested, it’s your job as a client to keep your customers happy with your great product, service or business. After all, that’s the real key in a long-term commitment. And as Beyoncé would tell you, if they like it, then they should put a ring on it.

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