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Gen Z and the rebirth of copywriting

News, 01 September 2016

SAN FRANCISCO: Generation Z may prefer phones to TV for viewing video content, but their choice of what to watch is significantly swayed by headlines, according to new research.

Ad tech firm Sharethrough surveyed 300 consumers between the ages of 18 and 21 asking about their media consumption habits and found that, since many were watching video content outside the home, they turned the sound down.

At home 87% chose to watch video with the sound on, The Drum reported, but when at school or work 76% opted to have the sound off; when commuting 62% turned the volume off.

The research added that this age group was more or less evenly split on whether it watched video full-screen or in-feed when out of home.

"You immediately have to think about the creative impact there and the visual approach," said Chris Schreiber, vice president of marketing and communications at Sharethrough.

And not just the visual approach, but also the words that accompany the content.

Two thirds (67%) liked to watch a video silently while reading a headline and description, while 84% reported that the headline was a major factor in deciding whether or not to watch an in-feed video ad.

"It's like the rebirth of copywriting," noted Schreiber, who added that simply putting TV ads online had never been the key to a successful strategy, and certainly not on mobile where in-feed autoplay has introduced the notion of what he called the "attention audition".

"One of the key pieces here is the role of headlines and reading and the inter-relationship between copywriting and the likelihood for video engagement," he said.

"You have the ability to get people to read your stuff now probably more than ever. Reading was maybe a billboard strategy, but now you have the ability to get this generation to read your copy throughout the day."

And with around one quarter of respondents saying they have gone on to search for a brand online or visit its website or social media account after reading an in-feed headline, it's clearly an area that should not be regarded as an afterthought.

Data sourced from the Drum; additional content by Warc staff