Compared to its predecessors, the practice of performance marketing naturally lends itself to an internet-savvy audience. The typical metrics of this marketing format, such as cost-per-click or cost-per-mile, indicate the information is only going to reach those who operate online. However, can we be sure that such information is going to have a meaningful impact among an online audience?

A recent survey of 1,000 respondents, based in the UK and US, conducted by digital insights company, Toluna, confirmed one of the most frequently made assumptions about internet users – that a younger demographic has a higher level of online engagement. As such, the targeted nature of performance marketing has the potential to be incredibly useful for brands that need to reach an audience defined by age.

In the past, performance marketing has rightly been credited with a capability of reaching a range of demographics. Websites that generally attract an older audience, such as price comparison engines for car insurance or holidays, are perceived as a safe space for hosting marketing content and therefore connecting with older generations. However, other online destinations that attract a younger audience may well have been overlooked, and their suitability for performance marketing might have been underplayed. 

Right place, right time

Indeed, it seems that younger people are likely to be in the right place at the right time to be exposed to performance marketing. When it comes to digital platforms that serve adverts prior to use, such as Pandora, Spotify and YouTube, 89% of millennial respondents stated they used these websites frequently – compared to 63% of non-millennials. The higher proportion of young people encountering marketing in this way suggests millennials accept the placement of online advertising more than the older demographic; millennials are more willing to put themselves in a situation where they are sure to see branded content of some kind, whereas older people may prefer to avoid these scenarios.

Other elements of the survey support the theory that younger people are more likely to embrace pioneering developments in the digital world, such as the sharing economy and online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Whereas 42% of millennial respondents said they would consider earning extra income by getting a part time app-based job with companies like Uber, Lyft of AirBnb, just 25% of non-millennials thought this was feasible.  

Not only are younger people more likely than their parents to be on the internet in the first place, and to use websites that host branded content, Toluna’s survey suggests that it is more likely that millennials will engage with online marketing content in a quantifiable way. Not only are millennials more likely to literally see performance marketing on websites that are more likely to host this type of content, but it is probable that they will engage with the content in a measurable manner. Even if older generations come across performance marketing content on some sites more than others, they are less likely to spread the content more widely. 

A larger number of millennial respondents (42%) said they had shared an advert via social media, compared with their non-millennial counterparts (21%). Indeed, only 8% of millennials claimed to not use any social media at all, compared to a much larger 29% of non-millennials who made the same statement. A similar ratio exists for the demographic difference regarding long periods of time on social media, with 22% of millennial respondents claiming to spend over 3 hours a day, compared to 9% of non-millennials. 

These findings point towards the possibility that performance marketing makes significant strategic sense for brands targeting younger consumers. Ultimately, high levels of millennial engagement with online content increases the likelihood of a brand running an effective, and measurable, performance marketing campaign.