Atomic 212°’s Amy Chimes is a millennial. She’s not that worried about her digital privacy. She’s smart enough to know what to publish and what not to publish. Because she’s smart enough to know that someone will find it sometime, somehow. That’s just how life is. She’s offering a trade. On behalf of millennials. And to all businesses. Personal info for freebies.
Here’s her story:
In this world of iCloud leaks, Nigerian bankers and Facebook related HR disasters, you would think millennials, a generation who grew up on the cusp of it all, would appreciate the importance of cyber security.
Yet we don’t.
A study released by the American Press Institute found that only 20% of millennials worry about digital security all or most of the time. Furthermore, they found that 34% never worried about digital security. These stats echo an ever-growing truth about attitudes to online information.
While older generations have long since labelled this “chilled out” attitude towards security as “immaturity” or “naivety,” these accusations are no longer valid. Millennials are all grown up, and while still young, a generation who is working for, managing and running media and tech companies, can no longer be summed up as immature and naïve.
Having grown up in a world consumed with the internet, smartphones and social media, never knowing a world where “Google” was not a verb, millennials adopt and understand new technologies faster than any other generation. As millennials, we are aware that we’re putting this information out there. We are aware that major tech conglomerates are taking this information, selling it, and then serving it back to us in the form of targeted and retargeted Facebook ads. But we have also grown up in a world where this has become inevitable and we are now working this “exploitation” to our infinite advantage.
More aware than ever of our financial security, a result of living through two recessions and an era where five years of experience is required as soon as we graduate, we are less willing to pay for services we think we should get for free. Social, information and entertainment industries have been forced to transform and adapt to a generation that refuses to pay.
While some have attempted to compromise with the “free-loading” millennial consumers, offering subscription based services or freemium models as substitutions for traditional models, the most successful companies are those who offer their services for free. Such is the case with Spotify, which has recently reported to have over 100 million users, 70 million of which are unpaid subscribers. And whilst the biggest chunk of their revenue does come from paid subscribers, their ad revenue is the income source which sees the fastest growth, up 98% between 2014 and 2015. Hence in this new demanding, consumer-led economy, companies need to first be willing to offer their services for free.
Frontrunners such as Google and Facebook have been able to capitalise on this by creating a new business model. The information economy. Consumers no longer make purchases and pay membership fees; instead they enter into a mutually beneficial relationship, one where they trade private information as a form of payment. In this regard, users of “free to use” online platforms can be thought of as ‘prosumers,’ wherein they are simultaneously consuming content as well as producing user-generated data, personal data and transaction data.
Despite the fact that millennials are a generation that have been taught about cyber security throughout our whole adolescence, digital advertising revenue continues to steadily grow. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau $17.6 billion was spent on digital advertising in the last quarter of 2016. The majority of which is done through free to use online platforms such as Facebook and Google. This reflects the fact that the new information economy works. And not just for business. Consumers also benefit from this new era of personalised advertising and free services.
And just as Facebook, Instagram and Google have discovered there is a fundamental difference between how someone who lived before the internet and someone who has grown up alongside the internet think about privacy, millennials have discovered a way to use this age of virtual publicity to their advantage. Millennials, more often than not, are mindful about the information they are posting online. Using the knowledge that an online search is inevitable when applying for jobs, promotions or dates, many millennials have mastered the art of effectively presenting an online pseudo-persona.
A recent study by Annenberg Centre revealed that 51% of millennials said they were willing to trade personal information for something of value, proving that we are not simply a generation of impulsive hyper-connected consumers. We understand the value of ourselves as an audience and have leveraged this knowledge to our advantage.
And thus, millennials are not a generation being mindlessly exploited by informational capitalism and global tech conglomerates, but a generation that understands and is masterfully adapting to a changing global landscape, which now functions within the democratisation of creativity and information. Hence, we are happy for our online presences to be exploited, as we are gaining so much in the way of returns.