A recent survey of 1,300 millennials confirmed one of my longtime suspicions: I am the only person born after 1980 who still reads the news in print.

Or something close to that. 

I’m generally cautious of generalizations about generations, but the new study, from the research and consulting firm Millennial Branding (on behalf of Elite Daily), has me convinced that at least some of what they say about my peers in Gen Y is true. The data on the media habits of those of us who had Internet in high school is clear: We’re a paperless bunch, and we’re skeptical about what we read—unless it comes via our friends.*

According to the study:

Fascinatingly, young people’s relationships with brands (the Nike and Coke kind) are rooted in media as well. Fifty-eight percent of us expect brands to publish content online before we make a purchase from them. Fifteen years ago, that couldn’t have been the case, as most brands hadn’t even heard the word “blog." 

Gen-Yers ranked the "Authenticity" of news as more important than the content itself. We expect advertisers to be helpful, and we’re sickened by phoniness: 

The vast majority of young people prefer to do business with a brand with a "soul":

Then there's this:

To all my friends in advertising, all I have to say about that last one is: Uh oh.

Someone born in 1975 isn’t an inherently different species than someone born in 1990, despite what stereotypers say. Whether we millennials are all entitled assholes has yet to be empirically proven. But the data shows that people's expectations around media and advertising does indeed change based on the technology they grow up with. 

I’m going to keep reading my paper books, thank you. But I’ll probably invest my money in BuzzFeed.


Shane Snow is the author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success and co-founder of Contently. If you enjoyed this post, join his free newsletter.


*[1] Why we would trust our friends over media professionals is a fascinating topic. Especially if our friends get their original news from those very places themselves...