17th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 1
3D Printing: The Revolution You Didn’t Know Was Happening

By: Anthony Roderman – Audience Development: Vine

It’s being hailed as the “Second Industrial Revolution”. It’s already bringing hearing to the deaf, creating space-pizzas for astronauts, flying you across the globe, and even replicating human cells.

3D printing is here, and it’s heading straight to your living room.

What the heck is a 3D Printer?

A 3D printer is a robot, controlled by a computer, that creates a real, physical, 3-dimensional object from a digital model. 3D printers create items by meticulously squirting out the object’s materials in a 3-dimensional space. Just like the printer sitting on your desk at home prints out one line of text at a time, 3D printers “print” out the object one microscopic layer of material at a time. Everything from plastics, to metals, to chocolate can be molded by 3D printers. 3D printing technology has been around for engineers and manufacturers since the early 1980s, but it wasn’t until the last five years that the technology became accessible to consumers.

A 3D printer in action.

Why does 3D Printing matter?

Imagine an evening in the not-so-distant future. You’re at home in your kitchen baking some cookies when you realize your measuring spoon is nowhere to be found. Rather than drive to the store, you just hop online, download a measuring spoon design off the internet (here are 33 measuring spoon 3D printer designs available right now), send it to you your 3D printer, and in just a few minutes you have a brand new spoon!

A 3D Printing Manufacturer


3D printing has the potential to turn the way we think about manufacturing on its head. As The Economist points out, with traditional manufacturing processes, a factory assembly line creates one item over and over again. The more of that item the factory produces, the cheaper the object is to make. With 3D printing, a couple quick changes on the computer can make the same printer create just about anything you can imagine at very little additional cost. This means that manufacturers could cheaply make products in extremely low volumes and customize orders for every individual. Not only that, but it also means that consumers that own 3D printers will be able to print simple products, like that measuring spoon, in their own homes for the same price as it costs a massive manufacturer.


Designing an object to be 3D Printed


3D printing’s unique ability to affordably create highly-customized objects is already a reality. In 2012 a woman in Belgium had her jaw replaced with a 3D printed one and in 2013 a man in Wales had most of his face reconstructed with 3D printing techniques after a motorcycle accident. GE, Boeing and Ford are all using 3D printers to create complex components. Nike 3D printed the cleats NFL players wore in the Super Bowl. Even Hershey’s is experimenting with 3D printed chocolate.

What does this all mean for millennials?

Consumer 3D printing is still in its infancy, and the barriers to entry for home 3D printing remain a little high. Consumer-grade 3D printers are available, but at $1,500 and up they’re still too expensive for most millennials. On top of the price, the process of 3D printing on even the most expensive machines is still pretty complex. It’s not quite as easy as clicking a few buttons and hitting print just yet. For now, consumer 3D printing is mostly confined to a niche market of early adopters and tinkerers.

Staples will soon offer in-store 3D printing services

But the barriers are dropping fast. Last week the Micro, a 3D printer that bills itself as the “first truly consumer 3D printer”, smashed its goal of raising $50,000 on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter in just 11 minutes, and in a few days it raised over two million dollars. The Micro should be available later this year for only $300. In addition, Staples announced a 3D printing service pilot program in select U.S. cities. Staples will print consumers just about any simple object they can imagine.

As 3D printing becomes more affordable, millennials are sure to jump on it. The millennial generation is tech-savvy and will both adopt and respond to the technology early. The ability to customize and individually tailor just about anything is sure to be a hit with the “it’s all about me” millennial generation, and the ability to print products at home means millennials won’t just get what they want, they’ll get it right when they want it.

A 3D Printer in action


As a millennial and a member of the YAYA (Youth and Young Adult, 18-24 year old) market, I’m incredibly excited about its potential. As we begin our professional careers, the shift in how we think about producing goods as a result of 3D printing will have a major impact on all of us, no matter what industry we are in. Consumers and marketing professionals alike can follow 3D printing in search of new trends and opportunities brought about by the technology.

What are your thoughts? Do you think 3D printing has a future marketing to YAYA consumers? Does the prospect of it excite you? Share your comments below!













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16th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 2
Are Athletes the Latest “Trend”?

By: Lia Crawford, Audience Development: Twitter

On April 9, the death of Lacey Holsworth, an 8-year-old girl battling cancer, shook the world. The epicenter of this heart-shattering earthquake was none other than the Michigan State basketball program, namely senior Adreian Payne. Earlier this year,Big 10: The Journey aired a segment on Payne’s inspiring relationship with Lacey. He was her Superman, she was his little sister, and it’s virtually impossible to watch theathleteir story with a dry eye.

To say that the nation fell in love with this unlikely duo would be an understatement. As numerous articles surfaced across news outlets and social media platforms, this story became a significant trending topic over the last few months.

Amidst the clutter of controversy and bad reputations of athletes across the sports spectrum, there is a light of hope in the genuine storylines that unveil. The heartwarming stories of public figure athletes attract us to become fans of teams and players where we may otherwise pay no attention. (See: Michael Sam’s 95.4K Twitter followers).

#LeBronMeetEbony: The Power of Twitter

lebronWhether or not we as Millennials are sports fans, we have an affinity for trending topics. Does anyone remember KONY 2012? We love to feel as though we are making a difference by turning the focus on something bigger than ourselves through our constant social media usage. Without having to leave our computers or mobile devices, we are able to contribute to positive and popular causes.

When it comes to Twitter, campaigns with an authentic and inspiring cause have a greater impact than those orchestrated by businesses. Meet Ebony Nettles-Bey, a high-school basketball player that was diagnosed with stage four cancer this past summer. Her name may be familiar because of the “Worldwide Trends” panel on the left-hand side of our Twitter pages. In February, a #LeBronMeetEbony Twitter campaign was launched and soon went viral. On March 29, the thousands of tweets met a happy ending when Ebony was given the opportunity to meet her idol and warm-up on the court with LeBron James and the entire Miami Heat team. For every Millennial that followed the story or tweeted the hashtag, we were delighted that our contribution had helped achieve such a wonderful experience.

There was no need to be an NBA enthusiast to become a part of this story and a supporter of Ebony’s fight against cancer. With relentless effort from her family, friends, and social media junkies (like ourselves), #LeBronMeetEbony turned into #LeBronMetEbony.

AJ & AJ: An Inspiring Friendship

AJ McCarron will be leaving a legacy as the quarterback for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, he will be a part of the 2014 NFL Draft coming this May, and there are rumors of an upcoming reality show with his stunning Miss Alabama fiancée, Katherine Webb. These facts matter to AJ McCarron fans, but why is this name popular amongst other Millennials?

It’s simple: McCarron is not the AJ that matters the most in this scenario. That would be AJ Starr, a college student with cerebral palsy, who McCarron offered a ride to when Starr missed the bus while standing in the rain. A ride home talking about cerebral palsy and Crimson Tide football soon developed into McCarron finding a position for Starr in the football team’s equipment room, and Starr has been a part of the team ever since.

The genuine bond between the two AJs once again prompts Millennials to fall in love with an athlete’s story. We begin to care where we may have otherwise paid no mind, and the connection draws in admirers by humanizing the athletes from being only regarded as a name and number on a jersey. Side note: we recommend having tissues handy while watching this one.



As Millennials, we cannot resist a good story. As the “connected generation”, we are always tuned in to current trends. We want to feel a sense of contribution to a cause, even if just by clicking the ‘Retweet’ button to share a story.

Marketers should recognize the potential in creating advertisements that highlight trending stories that show the personal side of athletes. Guinness did so with their “Made of More” campaign featuring an advertisement during the 2014 Winter Olympics. Guinness: Twins showcased the heartwarming story of Tracy and Lanny Barnes, U.S. Olympic twins, one of which being too ill to compete in the games. The advertisement was described as “inspirational” and was an overall success despite being banned due to Olympic sponsorship advertising rules.


So while many believe that athletes are only about fame and fortune, emerging story lines speak differently. Millennials recognize this inspirational trend, so marketers should follow suit. Tell us what you think. How can marketers implement a greater amount of athlete stories to make Millennials care?


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16th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 1
Ok, Glass: Show the future

By: Weicheng Zhao, Multimedia Specialist & Graphic Designer

Imagine searching for recipes via voice instead of leafing through a cookbook while cooking. You could price compare a product by scanning a barcode in a local store. You could even view speech notes during a presentation while still maintaining eye contact with your audience. Think it is science fiction? Nope. It is augmented reality (AR) technology, brought to you by Google Glass for one day only! At least for now.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 4.07.36 PM.pngFor one day, the once invite-only smart eyewear became available to more than just tech elites. Any adult in the U.S. could score a pair of Google Glass for $1,500 on Tuesday April 15th. Our generation’s technology breakthrough, Google Glass, and the AR technology behind it is gaining traction among mobile’s core audience, youth and young adults (YAYA) between the ages of 18 and 24. According to a recent Google Consumer Survey, 61.9 percent of YAYA consumers now recognize Google Glass and show an interest in using the device in the near future.

According to MIT Technology Review, as smartphones and wearables like Google Glass explode in popularity, augmented reality is starting to “move from novelty to utility.” Most commonly hidden behind certain “trigger” images, AR is a layer of digital information over the physical world that you can only see with cameras on your mobile devices. Although still relatively young, this technology opens a new window for marketers to engage their audience at a deeper level, especially the YAYA consumers who have grown up in a digitally connected world.

Coming of age during a time of economic hardship, the YAYA consumer has a low level of social trust, according to a Pew study. Traditional linear marketing tactics often fail to woo the YAYA shoppers because, as head of research for MTV Nick Shore puts it, we’re “just better at seeing through them.” Instead of being passive recipients of a message, we expect to be tempted to actively immerse ourselves in the brand experience. We seek ads that smartly capture our attention with aesthetically-pleasing visuals and engaging features. Augmented reality meets these needs with its ability to infuse highly interactive multimedia experiences like videos, 3D models of products, and animations with print materials.

In it’s simplest form, an AR marketing experience requires users to point their mobile devices at an object – whether it is a coffee cup or a magazine cover – to trigger multimedia contents over the real-world object. As Business Insider reports, Absolut Vodka’s AR campaign, AbsolutTruths, takes us on a tour to the drink’ s Swedish home.  By scanning specially created neck hangers on Absolut bottles, we can activate a 3D video about how the vodka is produced– from grain, to distillery, to bottling facilities.


Further, you can customize your advertising to suit your individual need through various try-on experience. For example, USPS’s Virtual Box File:USPS virtual box application.pngSimulator allows busy YAYA consumers to compare the size of the real stuff we want to ship to the size of the virtual box on our screens. Those interactive experiences provide us a fun, engaging, and memorable way to interact with the product without physically handling it.

The possibilities of augmented reality as a new media way to attract the YAYA consumer is only just being explored. There is little evidence of how these AR campaigns may affect the actual sales of a product. But industry analysts caution that AR’s success depends on how the younger crowd finds it easy to use and the recognized value in interacting with the multimedia contents. Otherwise the novelty factor of the technology may soon wear off.  Tuong Nguyen of Gartner, a research firm, explains, “If the content isn’t bringing additional value, the mainstream consumers aren’t going to use it twice.”

While Google Glass is not sharing any sales numbers for the day, reports have it that the site did crash or some customers were turned away. As of Tuesday afternoon, Google did say it was sold out of the white, or “cotton” color of Glass, only selling the remaining red, blue, gray and black options.

Is this a sign of augmented reality success? We can’t be sure, but what are your thoughts? Would you like to use augmented reality-based advertising as a consumer, or for your company? Let us know in the comments below!
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15th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 3
To Engage or Not To Engage: A Response for American Airlines

By: Mary Trier, Content Curator

Let’s start this off with saying yes, terrorist threats are terrible; and yes, they should be taken seriously. However, social media can be tricky when brands engage the way American Airlines did the other day.

If you don’t know the story, it can be summed up as the following: a girl “jokingly” threatens American Airlines via Twitter, American responds telling her they’re going to report her to the FBI, and the rest is social media history.

Many are focusing their attention on the 14-year-old girl, who was arrested in the Netherlands Monday. But the other half of posts reflect a lesson marketers can learn in the wake of this fiasco. The lesson is simply to be wary when responding to people via social media.

American’s response alone made the brand look silly for publicly engaging with a tweet of that nature, being that it was from a teenage girl; but their word choice made it even worse. “Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI,” they said in their response. Choosing to let the public in on that kind of company action probably shouldn’t have happened over Twitter. What made the situation even worse for American was when a Twitter spokesperson informed the world that the airline had no way of knowing her IP address…quickly making American look both uninformed and unprofessional.

While some might think American’s tweet was meant to advertise their safety tactics and discourage others from tweeting similar threats, this was not the right platform or message to convey that. This is obvious given American has since deleted their tweet. They have also failed to mention anything else on the matter. Note to American: now is the time for damage control. Social media is going rampant with opinions, so now is when you should take action. We are starting to wonder how you will fix this.

The response from American not only garnered unwanted attention for the girl, but also for the airline. Without their very public response, the post would not have blown up the way it did. Now, jokes like this one are being made at Americans’ expense. Numerous other teenagers have since decided to post tweets with joke threats to American, as well as other airlines, because of this debacle.  

If this wasn’t enough attention for the airlines, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested for making a bomb threat. He was released on bail, since he didn’t actually have a bomb on him.

US Airways also made a recent Twitter oops by sending out a graphic photograph to two customers. But, at least they’re trying to do damage control in a timely manner. The same can’t be said about American Airlines.

So, could they have avoided this whole mess? Probably.

If American thought the threat was real, they should have looked into it without responding via Twitter. Even if, for some reason, they wanted to respond to this tweet and show they are committed to safety, they should have responded with only positive things to say about their company. And if their tweet was meant to be a joking response to the girl’s tweet, then they can expect as large a firestorm as she is under.

Moral of the story here: think before you tweet. Airlines should take more time before posting on any social media. It’s better to be cautious than make mistakes like these. For more social media disasters, check back with us soon for our upcoming blog on brands and their presence.

14th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 2
Rent the Runway: A Millennial Woman’s Digital Closet

By: Cathy Ann Baker, Content Curation Specialist 

Badgley Mischka, Nicole Miller, Kate Spade, Calvin Klein and Dolce and Gabbanna are all key members in any fashion forward, Millennial woman’s dream closet. Now your dream closet can become a reality. Rent the Runway (RTR) is an online store that is targeting Millennial women in all the right ways. RTR is a distributor of fabulous, in season, designer dresses and accessories. Millennials can log on, create an account, and start picking out dresses for all of our upcoming events. RTR buys the designer dresses on wholesale, then rents them out for two days at a time for a fee of $50-$200.

The digital store gives every woman a designer wardrobe right at her fingertips. Not only can we rent gorgeous gowns that most women our age can most likely not afford, but we can speak directly to a representative and use them as consultants to find clothing tailored to our taste. RTR has seen great success as they celebrated their fourth birthday in October. Why so much success for this once small niche site?


We all know that Millennials love transparency. We want to know exactly what we are getting into and RTR does this flawlessly. Their “Our Runway” option allows us to choose our height, bust size, usual size and age and then produces a fabulous mix of photos of real women who have already worn the dresses. As you can learn from YAYA Connection’s most recent white paper about YAYA Donors, Milllenials want to know what we are getting for our money. We want to know that our money and time are well spent and that the product is going to be worth it. For each dress, RTR gives the ability to read comments, good and bad about others’ experiences before we make our rental purchase. This transparency allows RTR to create a community of real women who often become repeat customers.

2. Cross Generational

RTR’s target market is women between the ages of 18 to 45. This cross-generational approach will ensure that RTR is around for a long time. They snag the young woman when she is shopping for her prom dress and then offer her beautiful options for her sorority formal when she is in college. You can’t forget that perfect little black dress for her best friend’s bachelorette party, and countless options for her fancy holiday office party.  Millennial women represent the largest portion of RTR’s customer base, but the next generation will seamlessly fill these designer-hungry shoes in the next few years.

3. Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are the key social media outlets that RTR uses on a daily basis. At least one platform is utilized daily, and most of the time it is all four. They use Facebook to generate conversation and advertise promotions, with posts that are always visually driven with a photograph or a video. RTR does a great job of pulling in other fashion sources like InStyle magazine to draw users to their main website.

 Twitter is the platform where RTR really shows off what it is doing. They keep up with their famous customers, like Miss America and Melissa Joan Hart and retweet their pictures in the dresses. Twitter is utilized for brand awareness and showing off their great reputation.

Instagram is another social media outlet used to generate brand awareness. Many of the pictures and videos are of the RTR headquarters in New York City. This is the platform where the customer gets to see the RTR reps in their everyday habitat. RTR is successfully using Instagram to humanize their brand. As a customer you can see that RTR is being run by real women, just like you.

Pinterest is a fantastic collage of everything RTR.  The majority of pins are dresses that are for rental but other pins include product reviews, upcoming promotions and great ideas on how to style your dress. Each of the pins links the user back to the main website. Pinterest is used as a visual resource that generates leads to the website.RTR5

4. College Ambassadors

RTR uses real college women on campuses across the United States to help generate buzz about the company. These women work with RTR directly and put on events like fashion shows, scavenger hunts and trunk shows. As it discusses in YAYA Connection’s latest white paper, Millennials are more likely to believe, trust and take part in a company when it is being promoted by other Millennials. RTR utilizes this insight and is specifically targeting its largest customer base, college women.

What marketers need to take away from RTR’s approach is this, be your own customer. Embody who you are trying to reach and humanize your band through social media. Keep an open, honest and upbeat communication with Millennial women. We are powerhouse consumers and devoted customers when we find a brand that gets us, Rent the Runway gets us.

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11th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 7
2048: The Rise of a Mobile Gaming Craze

By: Lindsey Wehking, Researcher 

I’ve never been a huge mobile gamer. When I played in the past it was only to obliterate my boyfriend at Words With Friends. Then I found 2048. What began as curiosity about an emerging trend may soon become the sad tale of a young woman’s demise.


 In case you’ve been successfully functioning in the productive world for the past few weeks, 2048 is a simple puzzle game where the player combines tiles by sliding them across the grid to create a single tile with the value 2048.

 Coming early May, YAYA Connection will release a White Paper on the youth and young adult (YAYA) market’s relationship with mobile gaming. What was really fascinating was that over the few weeks we conducted primary research, we were able to watch one mobile gaming craze die out and another rise in its ashes.

 When we began our research, “Flappy Bird” was still trending. In focus group after focus group, we asked participants for their associations with “Mobile Gaming”. They responded: “Flappy Bird.” This wasn’t surprising.

 Only two weeks later, we sent out a survey to over 200 18-24 year old mobile gamers. We began seeing a response to our question asking for participants’ favorite mobile game that none of us were familiar with, and hadn’t come up in the focus groups: 2048.  12344469385_a327e44e62_o.jpg

 At first, we wrote 2048 off as an error code, but as it climbed the ranks a quick Google search proved our asininity. It became the second most popular game within our sample (right behind Candy Crush), and soon after it exploded all over social media and the news. The fast-paced mobile gaming market had cycled through right before our eyes.

 2048 is the perfect testament to the rapidly changing and unforgiving nature of the mobile gaming industry. Inspired by a browser-based game of the same name, 2048 hit app stores in mid-March and by April 1 was one of the most downloaded apps in the Apple App Store. 2048 appears to be a rip-off of the $1.99 game “Threes”, but has obliterated any demand for the original.  Why? Simply enough: it’s free!

Puzzle games are one of the most downloaded mobile gaming apps, and we found this rings true for the YAYA gamer. From our survey, I know I’m not the only one swiping my way late into the night. As I was sitting in class today, I found myself watching that 4 x 4 grid take shape in the rows of seats before me, and imagining sliding together occupants with the same colored shirts. Someone send help!

Or, maybe just check back in early May for our full report on the YAYA mobile gamer! You’ll find actionable insights relevant to advertisers, game developers and any brand wanting to get involved with mobile gaming.

Interested in learning more about how the YAYA market interacts with mobile games? Attend our white paper presentation on the topic! RSVP here.

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10th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 2
Millennial Madness

By: Taylor Werthauser, PR Newsletter

Given that my first blog for YAYA Connection was also about sports, you may find it surprising that I actually don’t know that much about them.  My boyfriend eats, sleeps and breathes football, so I may have learned a thing or two by osmosis, but for the most part I know just about diddlysquat.

But for whatever reason, I love March Madness.

I’m not the only one who loves March Madness. Even my friends, who are far less interested in sports, have their brackets filled out.  So what’s the deal? Why does the YAYA market (youth and young adults, age 18-24) like March Madness so much? And what can you as a marketer do to leverage that?

Why we love it: We’re all about the team

Gen Y’ers have a reputation of being self-invested yet lazy and uncompetitive. The reality is that they are all about the team. Studies from organizations like Rainmaker Thinking show that millennials have a talent and enjoy working in and being part of teams. Even T. Scott Gross, the author of “Positively Outrageous Service” and Forbes contributor, notes that millennials are great team players, because they’ve been raised to be all about the team. And it’s true. We’ve been working in teams for group projects and winning trophies because “everyone’s a winner,” since before we could remember. So when our team makes it into the NCAA tournament (or the NIT–full disclosure, we’re all Mizzou fans here at YAYA Connection), it feels like we’ve made it into the final tournament too.

How you can leverage it: Join in on the team spirit!

Everyone has a favorite team. And obviously, everybody likes to see kU lose (see full disclosure above), So rally around that team spirit and capitalize on it. But be careful-it’s easy to go negative and lay down some smack-talk on your biggest rival. Make sure to keep it positive.

Why we love it: It’s easier to watch

YAYA sports fans are experts at “second-screening,” meaning we’ll watch TV, but we’ll be on our phones, laptops or computers at the same time. That way, we can watch overlapping games without having to flip back and forth.  Second screens make it easier to watch all the games and it shows. A report from Turner says that second screen viewership of the NCAA tournament is up 42% from last year and that 4 million hours of live video were consumed in the first three days.  And live streaming to mobile platforms, like tablets and smartphones, rose 87% from last year.

How can you leverage it: Digital Advertising

So, if we know that YAYA sports fans are streaming video on mobile devices, then that’s where you need to put the ads. Digital advertising can range from online display ads, to pre-roll video, to native content.  A study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that 18-29 year olds were more likely to engage in real-time mobile activities, so leverage their “second-screening” in real time to get them engaged with your brand.

Why we love it: We love a good underdog

Millennials love a good underdog story and it’s probably because we relate. A study from PriceWaterhouseCoopers notes that Millennials tend to feel like the underdog in their places of work. We just want to succeed and impress you with our skills and that translates to a good underdog story. It’s about having the faith in others that they can do well too.

How you can leverage it: Love that underdog too.

In the workforce or on the court, showing that you have faith in the teams is the best way to get a millennial engaged. We’re a little more dimensional than self-entitled techies and marketers that can see that are marketers that we’ll relate to the most.

Even though the the last game of the NCAA Tournament was Monday night, you can still take these tips off the court. Understanding how millennials think and work is key to being able to market to them or even hire them on your team!

 What are some reasons you love March Madness? Or, do you have any tips and tricks about marketing to millennials? Share with us below!






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9th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 5
Insta-Ads: Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

By: Anna Blasberg, White Paper Editor 

Instagram is continuing to prove itself worthy of its $1 billion dollar price tag. In 2013, Instagram was “the fastest growing of the top 10 mobile apps.” Of the photo-sharing platform’s user base of almost 35 million, those of us between 18-24 years old represent the largest portion of users. In a recent report by eMarketer, we are expected to continue as the dominant users. Here is what their projection looks like for 2014, and an overall look at each age category up until 2016:


In October of 2013, Instagram started to test ads in the form of sponsored posts with a few select advertisers. So far they have done everything right with the ad rollout. The post images are carefully vetted by Instagram before being cleared for publishing.

So how much do these sponsored posts cost? AdAge recently published that brands have been quoted between $350 thousand to $1 million for a month-long buy. That’s a massive commitment–especially since the only targeting available to advertisers is based on age and gender. Considering the prevalence of youth and young adult (YAYA) users on Instagram, advertisers should definitely try targeting us through their ads.

Smaller brands, have no fear if you can’t shell out $1 million for a sponsored Instagram post! Organically growing your audience through best practices is still the best way to utilize Instagram in our eyes. We appreciate when brands interact with us through comments and make awesome hashtags that we actually want to post on. Nike obviously has a smashing hit with #justdoit and leads the Instagram community with 24,609,760 posts on their hashtag.

Some of the giants who originally tested the ad units may just be wasting their money.  According to AdAge, “It’s currently unclear whether any of the advertisers in the test group — Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Burberry, General Electric, Levi’s, Lexus, Macy’s, Michael Kors, PayPal and Starwood — are re-upping on Instagram ads.” Sure, paying for more eyeballs will inevitably garner more followers, but if a brand fails to deliver consistently engaging content, we’re going to start tapping that “Unfollow” button. Let’s take a look at how some of the test group brands are doing.

*Lexus – #259

There is a reason this auto-behemoth is ranked so low. Just look at their page overview:

Yikes. Even if you’re a car person this has to get boring. The images are sleek, but they don’t fit in with the general vibe of Instagram. Lexus should dedicate their dollars to their account management before paying for more sponsored ads. We appreciate brands that are creative enough to give us variety. BMW does a better job--they occasionally feature follower photos and actually utilize the app’s photo filters that made it a success in the first place.

*Taco Bell – #60

First of all, T-Bell gets props for making good use of their profile link and directing users to their YouTube page instead of their website like a lot of other brands. By nature, the food category lends itself to the visual platform quite well. However, Taco Bell is a standout because of its personal feel. Every photo is unique, artsy, and very non-market-y, which we love. Almost every post feels like a user-submission, which creates a community feel for followers. These girls could totally be our friends:


Taco Bell made the right move in using sponsored ads to promote their new breakfast menu. Since promoted posts stay in a user’s feed longer than a day, Taco Bell is more likely to be top-of-mind–making us more likely to swing by the Taco Bell drive thru instead of the McDonald’s one on the way to campus.

As long as Instagram continues to be rigorous in its ad-approval process, we won’t mind seeing the sponsored posts. People will complain for the sake of complaining, but we will get used to Instagram ads, just like we have grown to accept Facebook ads. The advantage Instagram has is that sponsored posts will be inherently less spammy. Brands just need to be certain that they can deliver a top-notch user experience to new followers they gain through advertising.

What is your opinion on the new sponsored ads? Will they become a nuisance or actually enhance the Instagram experience for users? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

*Rankings from Nitrogram 50. Their ratings are based on a combination assessment of the number of followers and number of contributors (the number of posts on their hashtag).



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7th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 3
5 Things Millennials Consider When Planning a Trip

By:  Sapna Khatri, Rob Glauz, Weicheng Zhao, Yicheng Liu & Todd Smithern 

Whether it’s in a group or solo, for business or leisure, Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) Travelers want to make the most of their travel experiences. This Spring Break, many college Millennials traveled all around the states in hopes of having the ultimate experience. But what makes them tick? We’ve compiled a nifty infographic featuring the top 5 things millennials consider when planning a trip and which destinations take the cake our passbooks:

4th Apr 2014 Posted in: YAYA Wire 7
From big backyard to city landscape: The new geographic American Dream

By: Weicheng Zhao, Multimedia Specialist & Graphic Designer

Baby boomers once flocked to the suburbs in search of the American dream. Now it seems that the opposite is true for their younger counterparts.

According to new Nielsen research, the YAYA generation (youth and young adults between the ages of 18 to 24) is moving into urban areas at a higher rate than any generation. With that shift, so is our American Dream. 62 percent of millennials polled said they preferred to live in mixed-use communities found in cities with walkable downtown areas and easy access to everyday necessities.

Roughly 30 million strong, the YAYA market is the younger part of the millennial generation with more than $200 billion in purchasing power annually. Companies are falling over themselves trying to reach this coveted demographic, especially as we continue to mature in the workplace and represent a greater percentage of consumer market.

The YAYA demographic is spawning a Renaissance change of American cities. Census figures show that for the first time since the 1920s, the urban population growth of the nation’s core cities is outpacing the suburbs.The two major factors responsible for the migration of the YAYA population to urban cores are our desire to be connected and a growing preference for more efficient dwellings.

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The urban setting gives the YAYA population a sense of connectedness, something we crave but couldn’t get from our suburban upbringing. As Nathan Norris, an urban infrastructure planner pointed out in his blog, while the suburban single-family home promised privacy, autonomy and a certain degree of security, it also produced an isolated and disconnected environment. Those of us that grew up in the cul-de-sac lifestyle can rarely roam beyond the little cliques pre-approved by our families. But, we want a more active social life, a desire that is well manifested through our embracement of social media. The solution? Cities. What better place to connect with and share than a densely-populated city where social interactions are just steps from our front doors?

In response to urban YAYA dwellers’ need to reach out and connect with others, your brand should cultivate a greater sense of belonging by supporting our local communities and creating communal experiences where we can meet like-minded people. Kiehl’s, a U.S. skin care brand loved by the younger crowd, understands the power of communities. It originated as a single store in New York’s East Village. The wall space was devoted to local activities, including an entire wall filled with photos of customers’ children. Kiehl’s packaging is plain and the brand has never been advertised, but its attachment to the local community has prompted consumers to do their advertising for them through word of mouth. One by one, they spread Kiehl’s story to their friends and made the beauty store a household name.

The second reason that drives the YAYA market to cities is our increasing preference of walkable, transportation-efficient communities. According to USA Today, YAYA workers are comfortable with smaller homes and are willing to trade living space for less time and gas spent on commuting.

The second reason that drives the YAYA market to cities is our increasing preference of walkable, transportation-efficient communities. According to USA Today, YAYA workers are comfortable with smaller homes and are willing to trade living space for less time and gas spent on commuting.

To hold onto the urban youth market who are looking for value and convenience, your company must provide relevant solutions that are efficient in terms of time, energy and land use. A few furniture manufacturers, motor companies and retailers have already signaled the opportunities. As Wired.com put, Ikea’s new “On the Move” collection is “designed specifically with young urbanites in mind.” To help them use every inch of their home effectively, the collection features portable and multifunctional furnitures ranging from stackable plastic containers to a side table that doubles as a lamp. Car-sharing companies such as Zipcar are also attracting urban dwellers by addressing their occasional need of vehicles for a quick errand.

The bottom line: expect to see a resurgence of cities as more and more of us are putting down roots in urban neighborhoods. Play a bigger role in our local community to resonate with us and adapt to our urban mindset by providing products and/or services that will maximize our efficiency.

What do you think? Are you ready to take advantage of the reurbanization kindled by the YAYA generation? Do you want to build a stronger urban presence for you company? Leave your comments below to let us know.

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