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Generation Z Is Emerging—How Can Advertisers Stay Ahead?

August 16th, 2017   ||    by Melanie Brown   ||    No Comments

For the past few years, the advertising industry’s holy grail has been the millennial. Brands have worked tirelessly to determine how millennials live, what their tastes are, what they buy—and why. But as the millennial generation ages and becomes more well-known, a new wave of young influencers is beginning to emerge: generation Z.

This generation, which includes those born between 1996 and 2010, is starting to figure substantially in the way advertisers segment their media buys. Generation Z is the first generation to be born and raised entirely in the age of the Internet. These tech-savvy, culture-fluent young people are quickly rising in the ranks of marketable audience segments.

Generation Z and TV

Television for everyone is moving in the direction of cloud-based streaming services that offer the ability to consume content anywhere and at any time. For gen Zers, linear television has never been the primary source of trending video content.

Like many of the millennials before them, gen Zers consume video content with any number of screens and available technology at their fingertips. With access to Internet-based subscription services that are free of advertising, this younger sect has grown accustomed to content that is uninterrupted by ads—or to ignoring traditional commercials when they do come on. According to Forbes, time is important to gen Zers, and traditional video ads with run times of 15–30 seconds are seen as disruptive.

True Digital Natives

This means advertisers have to think outside the box of traditional advertising. Business Insider documents the increasing number of generation Z consultants who are members of the generation themselves, and explains that social media influencers are the way to get this growing audience’s attention—and tap into their spending power.

While millennials have largely used social media to connect and keep in touch with the people they already know, gen Zers have had access to these platforms for most of their lives, and have grown accustomed to developing and maintaining personal brands across all of them. The influencers they follow (and those who follow them) are more important than any television advertising in determining where they get their tastes—and where they’ll eventually put their money.

Generation Z’s oldest members are coming of age now, and the industry will start to see significant spending power from this group. They’re entrepreneurial, ambitious, and experiential. This generation wants to feel connected to a brand, and social media allows them to be a part of the conversation.

Connection Counts

While traditional television isn’t too high up on the list of priorities for gen Zers, local television may be the exception. According to a recent Videa study, 59 percent of Americans over 18 prefer television over social media, print, and radio when it comes to local news.

Local television appeals to gen Zers because it feels more customized. As viewers, they feel connected to local newscasters who know their area in a way that’s similar to how connected they often feel to social media influencers. The familiar faces on screen are trustworthy and personal, which is an advantage for TV advertisers looking to capture these brief attention spans.

TV advertisers must pivot their traditional buying strategies, as well as their creative strategies. Gen Zers want to see real people in advertising—not just famous faces. They want to feel like a brand really understands and values them as a customer. Advertisers can leverage these values—and audience targeting can help put ads in front of gen Zers—but brands must remember connection is the most important ingredient.

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