Gen Z Craves Multifaceted Content, Audio - And Even Likes (Relevant) Long-Form Ads

Members of digital-native Gen Z are particularly engaged by multifaceted content — meaning content rooted in recommendations that comes from a diverse set of channels and formats, confirms a new multi-generational media consumption study from video tech company Connatix. 

“For Gen Z, media consumption is about having more of everything to maximize a piece of content,” notes the company’s CEO, David Kashak. “Gen Z wants more video, more audio, and more feedback loops integrated into their content. They have a high regard for curation and recommendations, and will use these features in concert with social media and UGC as a North Star for the stories they ultimately delve into more deeply on publishers’ sites.” 

A third of Gen Z respondents expressed a preference for articles that contain interactive features such as polls or quizzes, and 26% said they engage with content that contains video summaries.  

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The survey’s findings point to the possibility that Gen Zs “may actually be more accepting of ads because they mimic the large volumes of short-form content they already consume,” added Jenn Chen, chief revenue officer at Connatix. “When the ads are humorous, relevant, and engaging, the feeling that it is averting the viewer may not be as strong as it can be with other, longer forms of content.”  

Indeed, Gen Zs also defy popular wisdom about ad attention spans. While short video ads (under 6 seconds) have become increasingly popular among all generations, Gen Zs are twice as willing as millennials to watch longer-form video ads (longer than 20 seconds). 

Perhaps equally surprising — and good news for publishers — is that Gen Zs are more willing than those of other generations to pay for content, assuming it meets their “experiential demands.” 

Fully a quarter of Gen Zs said they’re willing to pay $10 a year for subscriptions that include premier features like personalized podcasts, expert videos, and unbiased news, compared to only 11% of boomers who said they would pay for targeted podcasts.  

On the news front, Gen Z gravitates toward Reddit (30%) as a news source more than the other groups (0% of boomers cite a preference for Reddit).  

While 40% of respondents from each group said they comment on news on social media, 28% of Gen Z respondents said they comment directly on news sites, compared to 20% of millennials, 24% of Gen Xs, and 15% of boomers. 

Also, 44% of Gen Z respondents report spending more time with news articles when they are recommended to them. 

In a finding that aligns with the popularity of podcasts, more than a quarter (26%) of Gen Zs say that relevant audio content keeps them engaged longer with news articles, versus 17% of millennials, 14% of Gen Xs, and 9% of boomers. 

For Gen Z — a group less shaped by broadcast radio than boomers, Gen X or millennials — audio “is the latest way to access even more content when they’re on-the-go or multi-tasking,” explains Connatix VP of Product Gil Sommer. “They can listen to a podcast or audiobook on their commute, while doing the laundry, or while at work. The form factor of Apple and Spotify's on-demand model have made it especially easy for Gen Z to embrace audio content.” 

“As Gen Z begins to lead the way in terms of shaping how stories are told based on the features they like to engage with, publishers must pay attention to their needs and preferences as influential drivers of revenue,” summed up Chen.

For the study, Connatix surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers across the boomer, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z generations to examine how they engage with content across traditional, social and digital media.

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