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Are Millennials Hearing YOUR Voice? Ian
And Maria Chat About Where They Hear VO

See Part 2: How To Talk To Millennials, by Mara Pendolino

As the OG cord cutters, millennials are the hardest major demographic for advertisers to reach via traditional media… and the one they're the most desperate to connect with right now.

As voice actors, this means more and more of our end-clients are seeking ways to connect with consumers in non-traditional mediums. Advertisers, brands, employers, recruiters, and the like are working hard to meet millennials wherever they may be.

So, where are they? Maria Pendolino and Ian Fishman, the two millennials behind Millennial Voiceover, sat down to parse out where voice-over shows up in a typical millennial's day...

Ian Fishman: Maria, what did you do yesterday, and where did you organically find voice-over?

Maria Pendolino: It was a pretty average day. Early on, I heard a little bit of terrestrial radio en route to driving to Starbucks: mostly local radio commercials, maybe one national in there.

IF: I caught some terrestrial radio too, for roughly 15 minutes in the afternoon. I'll switch back and forth between public radio, which has almost all of their ads read in-show by the host, and the "classic alternative" radio station, because music from 1994 now totally counts as "classic." But that's the only time I really get hit by terrestrial radio.

MP: And on my way back from Starbucks, I plugged in my iPhone to my Apple CarPlay and played Pandora.

IF: Was it a paid account, or do you have a free account with ads?

MP: I use the free account, so on the way home I heard a couple ads there.

IF: I'm the same way. It started because I'm cheap, but now I want to hear them each time… it's a free case study in current advertising. I never listen to Pandora in my car, but every time I'm at the gym that's exactly what I reach for.

MP: Totally. Then, I had a late breakfast at a diner with my husband, and the local news was playing on a TV in the background, so I peripherally heard some television commercials, but I wasn't actively paying attention to it. Later that afternoon when I got home, I was in my booth and I went to check the pronunciation of a city and I got a pre-roll ad for an app on the YouTube video, followed by a skippable ad… which I skipped to get to the pronunciation.

IF: Was it the Grammarly ad?

MP: No! I got that later, watching an orphan cat rescue video, and it was an interstitial ad right in the middle of it. I hate those interstitial ads. They put them right when you're getting to the key moment, like, when the cat is getting taken out of the sewer… and then there's an ad and you can't skip it.

IF: They're so irritating, and they never leave a good impression of the product. "Hey, this cat might not be alive anymore! By the way, do you know about Tide Pods?"

MP: After I did my round of auditions, I scrolled around in my Instagram feed and I probably saw maybe four or five targeted ads.

IF: What kind of targeted ads do you get?

MP: Most of my ads are either food delivery services around the ketogenic diet - I follow a lot of Keto influencers, so I get a lot of #keto targeted ads - and because I post way too many pictures and videos of my cats with #catsofInstagram, I get tons of targeted ads for cat beds, cat toys, cat lasers, cat backpacks, all of that. And then the usual millennial catnip: like, "these are the softest sheets you could possibly imagine."

IF: I get those, but they're hyper-targeted ads, too: mine are usually for things like designer, high-end, American-made workwear.

MP: They know you're an aging punk who's trying to replace his old Carhartt hoodie!

IF: Ugh. Completely.

MP: I will say, I did get an Instagram ad that I voiced. It was interesting to see it pop up in my feed… and I don't know if that's because, you know, the Google spiders read my Gmail and know that I was talking about that product and then put that product in my feed.

IF: This is a really unique moment. Also, congrats! How seamlessly did it fit in with what else was going on on Instagram? Like, without picking apart your performance, just the presentation of the ad itself.

MP: The concept is good, and the ad is visually interesting: if you don't listen to the voice-over, you can still follow what's happening. I think they know a lot of people make it through ads without putting the volume on. But was it seamless in my feed? Probably not. I think they're trying to hit a "busy mom" demographic… and I don't have a lot of kids in my Instagram. I'm not a parent, I don't follow any parenting accounts or use any hashtags relevant to "young mom" or "mommy blogger" kind of communities. So from a targeting perspective, maybe it missed the mark there. What did you do in the evening?

IF: My wife and I have been bingeing "Top Chef" lately, so we crushed a bunch of that on Hulu.

MP: Do you do the paid subscription to skip ads?

IF: Oh, even better. Like true millennials, we share a subscription. So, we pay for one streaming service… but we've got access to a few of them. And then, we've found we both really like this podcast "Nothing Much Happens," which is all bedtime stories for adults, so we'll put that on to listen to as we go to sleep.

MP: Any ads?

IF: Surprisingly not. But that's a good thing there. Can you imagine? "Tuck in, relax, and let's talk about"

MP: My husband and I will put on a podcast when we're going to sleep, too. We were listening to the latest episode of "The Dollop," which is one of our favorite history podcasts. And at the start of every podcast, Dave, the host, reads typically anywhere from four to five minutes of ads, which are kind of like all the typical podcast ads: Casper & Brooklinen & Quip… I feel like I know them all by heart now.

IF: Do you ever skip the ads?

MP: If we've already like plugged in our phones and put them down, sometimes we'll just let them roll. You know what's funny, is that two of the podcasts we listen to the most, we actually support them on Patreon and we get ad free versions… but you have to listen in the browser window or download an mp3, and we end up listening to the ads anyway because we like them in our podcast app of choice. You know what else I just realized? In all of this advertising that reached us, not a single bit of it was from network TV or national cable.

IF: You're totally right. I think the only place I would have caught any in my day would've been streaming on Hulu, but, surprise! "Top Chef" is just better without them. Like a true millennial. Pay to support good content, but take the easiest, quickest, lowest-barrier way to get it.

MP: Cuttin' cords everywhere we can.
Ian Fishman is one half of, a voice-over partnership launched with Maria Pendolino that helps brands around the world "speak Millennial." He's also the voice of Fish Sounds and High End Voice Over, the former director of the Twin Cities hit Late Night-style show Late Nights Minneapolis, and the copy editor for the punk rock satire, The Hard Times.

Maria Pendolino is one half of, a voice-over partnership launched with Ian Fishman that helps brands around the world "speak Millennial." Maria also runs her own VO business, Voice By Maria, and has lent her pipes to brands like Dannon, Google, Visa, Dell, Monistat, AWS and more. Maria is a two-time SOVAS Voice Arts Award winner and was nominated in 2019 for the e-learning category. She was also recently named to Buffalo's Class of 2019 40 Under 40.

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Comments (1)
Michael Kennedy
12/5/2019 at 1:05 AM
Nice read.
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