The general consensus amongst demographers and researchers is that Generation Z (Gen Z) is composed of young people born during the late 90s and early 2000s. While Millennials witnessed the beginning of the digital age and grew up with VCR tapes and CD players, Gen Z was raised on YouTube and Twitter.
Given this inclination, one might assume that social media and other digital avenues are the key to connecting with Gen Z. That’s not necessarily the case. Much like Millennials before them, members of Gen Z are incredibly selective about their media consumption. And, surprisingly, they don’t always vibe well with digital advertising.
Advertising and branding agency Kantar Millward Brown recently conducted a study on the online marketing preferences of Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. They established online forums in the U.S., China and Germany, tested 31 ads in ten countries and interviewed a total of 24,000 participants from 39 countries.
Of all three demographics, Gen Z was the least receptive to mobile video ads—only 27 percent of respondents reacted favorably to this format. When confronted with ads they didn’t like, they began to multi-task and pay less attention.
However, this changed drastically when viewers were offered a reward—58 percent reacted favorably.
Gen Z’s are often irritated by online ads and will do their best to avoid them. 43 percent said that they prefer skippable pre-roll ads (typical of YouTube, Vimeo and Hulu) to any other form of online advertising. Additionally, these tech-savvy teens are familiar with ad blockers and they’re not afraid to use them.
Interestingly, the study found that Gen Z prefer some forms of traditional advertising due to the perceived artistic effort dedicated to producing print ads and commercials.
Gen Z also reacts well to native advertisements and celebrity endorsements—but probably not the celebrities you’re thinking of. An AdWeek study revealed that an overwhelming majority (95 percent) of Gen Z use YouTube. Today’s teens couldn’t care less what Katy Perry has to say in a CoverGirl commercial, but they pay attention when their favorite beauty YouTuber recommends a new Glossier moisturizer.
With all this in mind, how can your brand best reach this up-and-coming demographic?
Pre-roll ads are an option, but be aware that if given the opportunity to skip an ad, Gen Z will use it (on average, they’ll skip three seconds faster than Gen X).
Brands looking to catch this demographic could benefit from brand ambassador programs or partnerships with Internet celebrities. It’s a good idea to do some quick research and see not what, but who the kids are watching these days.
If you’re looking to attract Gen Z, you should keep in mind that this is a generation raised on the digital age—which means they’re a little bit jaded by it. Brands should avoid invasive ads, non-skippable mobile ads and homepage pop-ups in favor of a more organic approach: native advertising, celebrity partnerships or brand ambassadors, and carefully crafted, traditional advertising.
Don’t underestimate today’s teens. The best way to lure them is with an eye for art and a healthy respect for their uncanny ability to determine which brands are “authentic” and which ones aren’t.
Check out the Kantar Millward Brown study:
And click here to see AdWeek’s infographic on Gen Z’s online habits:
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