Keeping Pace With Gen Z + The New Wave of Digital Advertising

There’s no room for error in digital advertising. That’s particularly true when engaging Gen Z. This tech-savvy group of youngsters certainly value “all things digital” — except being served digital ads. In fact, 69% of Gen Zers admit to physically avoiding digital ads. That’s not good news. 

Gen Z is an important group for advertisers, especially as they comprise a greater portion of that coveted 18 - 35 demographic. Their frustration with digital ads tells marketers across the industry that they need to step up their game. Luckily, advertisers can ensure their ads stay Gen Z-significant by leveraging three key elements in their digital advertising approach: user-generated content, cross-device reach, and relevance. 

User-Generated Content:

Gen Zers want to “co-create” with their favorite brands, and there are ways in which technology lets marketers infuse their digital advertising with user-generated content. To start, Gen Zers are hyper-sensitive to manipulation and relate better to real content than manufactured content. That shouldn’t be surprising given that user-generated content drives key social platforms today, where Gen Zers spend their online time. A Facebook video of a skateboard trick or an Instagram picture of the Northern Lights resonates with this generation in a way that manufactured content can’t. 



Digital ads that find a way to embrace user-generated content show an appreciation for the “co-creation” Gen Z favors. Brand appreciation is important to this generation, and they’ll quickly move on if they can’t detect it.

Cross-Device Reach:

Gen Z live their lives on multiple channels, across multiple screens and have higher “digital” expectations than any generation before them. Apart from growing up in an advanced digital world, Gen Zers are multi-taskers. They work and play on multiple screens, often at the same time. Just because a teenager’s browsing through Facebook pictures while simultaneously G-chatting a friend, doesn’t mean those actions are happening on the same device. That’s why it’s critical for marketers to have cross-device reach. Without that capability, they risk losing greater visibility. Gen Z expects everything they get on one screen to be available to them on others. Why shouldn’t they? If digital marketers want to cater to this sought-after group, they need to be present with them across every digital touchpoint.

Timeliness + Relevancy:

Growing up in a world of information overload, this generation’s attention is difficult to grab. That’s why all advertising must be highly relevant and personalized. It’s true that earlier generations have found targeted advertising around things that interested and resonated with them to be invasive, even creepy. That is not the case with Gen Z. They expect this approach. Their shorter attention spans are attracted to advertising that personally resonates with them. If an ad doesn’t strike that chord, they’ll immediately move on. 

They’ve also grown up in the world of “instant.” Instant transportation, instant delivery, instant payments — that’s why marketers can’t underestimate the power of timeliness. Pushing creative efforts around relevant events in real time is valuable because it capitalizes on conversations that matter most and matter “now” to their audiences.

Ultimately, Gen Z’s a great indicator of what the future of consumer expectations looks like — advertising needs to become more thoughtful. That holds true for the people marketers target and the content they use. When a brand can achieve that, and reach audiences across every digital touchpoint, they will find success with Gen Z, and those who follow.

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