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Standard digital ads fail Gen Z

News, 10 January 2017
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GLOBAL: Gen Z consumers may be more focused on digital media consumption than their elders, but new research indicates they are consistently more positive about traditional media ad formats than standard digital alternatives.

This finding is contained in the latest AdReaction study from Kantar Millward Brown, AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z, based on surveys of more than 23,000 16-49 year old consumers across 39 countries, with qualitative research also carried out with Gen Z respondents in the US, Germany and China.

While advertisers should not ignore outdoor, print ads and cinema, TV and radio, the report also suggested they need to think more creatively about their digital offering if this is to be effective among a key group – the first cohort is now aged 16-19 – that is becoming more relevant to more categories and sectors.

So, for example, Gen Z consumers are attracted to ads that allow them to co-create or see what happens when they make a decision.

They are more positive towards brands that let them vote for something to happen (31% compared to 25% for Gen Y,) choose an option (28% compared to 25%) or take decisions (27% compared to 22%).

Gen Z is also more positive than other generations towards mobile rewards video and skippable pre-rolls (which achieved net positive scores of 41% and 15% respectively), but especially damning of invasive ad formats like non-skippable pre-rolls and pop-ups (-36% and -42% respectively).

"Gen Z have grown up in an on-demand world of infinite choice, and this flavours their expectations of advertising," said Duncan Southgate, Global Brand Director, Media & Digital at Kantar Millward Brown.

That includes an appreciation of new immersive formats like augmented reality and virtual reality, while innovation in formats like native ads, sponsored lenses and sponsored filters all attracted much stronger approval with Gen Z than other age groups.

Local nuances were evident in the research, in terms of musical preferences in advertising, for example, but across all markets, music, humour and celebrities made Gen Z more receptive to advertising.

"No generation is a monolith and Gen Z is no exception, said Southgate. "Their upbringing, expectations and access to technology, however, has created a range of attitudes and behaviours that will challenge marketers.

"Only where brands take all this into consideration will they be successful in engaging this increasingly critical and fast-emerging group of consumers," he added.

James Galpin, Head of Digital & Media, LatAm at Kantar Millward Brown, will be discussing these findings - along with how digital can help build brands in Latin America - in a Warc Webinar on Tuesday 17 January. Readers can register here.

Data sourced from Kantar Millward Brown; additional content by Warc staff

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