Editorial: Young and Restless

The 18-34 demo may be a sweet spot for advertisers and the force powering the popularity of torn-from-the-video game TV shows—Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead. It was also a key political force in moving the FCC’s Open Internet order toward Title II reclassification.

Millennials parked themselves behind FCC chief Tom Wheeler to protest his early indications that Title II was not the way to go. And they were some of the same activists who helped block SOPA/ PIPA online piracy legislation two years ago when congressional archons had all but signed off on it. Regardless of how one feels about how their power has been leveraged, that power is undeniable.

Yes, it was President Obama who urged that Internet move—a president attuned to the tools and tenor of the Twitter generation. He announced his support in an online video and tweeted after the vote: “The @FCC just voted to keep the internet open & free. That’s the power of millions making their voices heard. Thank you! #NetNeutrality–bo.” Then he posted a “thank you” to activists to share on Twitter and Facebook.

It should be no surprise that young people are heavily invested in open Internet issues. According to statista.com, a statistics aggregation site, 97% of 18-to- 29-year-olds in the U.S. are Internet users compared to 87% for the population as a whole. The Pew Research Center puts it at 98%, with 90% of those social networkers and 77% of them smartphone owners. One suggested alternative to “millennial” is “generation net.” It might be a more appropriate name; and it is a reality, whatever you call them.

The Internet has also turned the traditional “captains of industry” stereotype of grey-haired suits into the new stereotype of twentysomethings in Chucks.

It is not only the way this generation communicates but also how it studies, shops, meets, marries and, in a word, ticks, that programmers and policymakers will have to be tuned in to, now and going forward.

In this, our first Millennials Issue, we offer a snapshot of this prized and researched demo and how it is viewed across the industry. It’s hard to overemphasize how key it will be to connect with them the right way.