Gen-Z Loves Branded Content

BY Jerome Smalls

Gen-Z Loves Branded Content

Gen-Z will be the first generation to grow up completely surrounded by social media and technology since birth. Let that sink in. The generation, which was born after 1996, accounts for 61 million people in the U.S., a number that’s already larger than Generation X and two-thirds the size of the baby boomers.

Nowadays, the average American spends a whopping 12 hours per day digesting digital media. This shift towards consuming more and more online media is largely due to the shift in population—Millennials and Gen-Z are challenging companies to think differently. Businesses can no longer stick to their old ways of creating media and content. With these new shifts, come new attitudes.

As Gen-Z begins to establish the way they want to receive and engage with media, they’re also re-establishing what types of media they want. Here’s what’s shifting:

They Want Authenticitybrand ambassador team marketing SK Energy on campus

As resentment towards intrusive marketing tactics deepen, demand for more “authentic” and shareable content is rapidly increasing. If you want to gain the attention of Millennials and Gen-Z, use the power and appeal of branded content, a progressive form of advertising that uses original content as a means of creating brand awareness and aligning your company with certain values.

Branded content is more than a buzzword. We are living in a world where, due to easily accessible information, there are 14-year-olds with political views and beliefs—and they’re making their voices heard! Gen-Z stands for diversity, equality, individuality, creativity, and justice. Want these young people to buy your product? Get them to buy into your brand first. The most promising way you can do that is by showing them that you believe in what they believe in, and meaning it.

According to Google’s research, consumers choose the brands that engage them on their passions 42% more often than they do with brands that simply urge them to buy the product. Research also proves that the use of branded content is the best way to establish this type of connection.

They Hate Online Ads

These young people are making it clear—they hate ads! In 2018, 30% of all internet users opted to block online ads and 69% of Gen-Z already avoid ads. And who could blame them? Online ads are typically rooted in terrible end-user experiences.

They’re a video generation, yet advertisers continue to push ads to them via videoless, noninteractive mediums. These young adults are using ad blockers and skipping as much content as they can in an attempt to cut through the clutter.

They Love Videos

Fifty-three percent of online viewers watch videos to be inspired or entertained, and YouTube is the number one platform 18-34 year olds use to explore their passions. Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Influence-Central, says, “This generation has grown up with instant response as its baseline expectation.” Having branded content in the medium Gen-Z likes to receive it (video) is how marketers are going to meet that expectation. Visuals and videos have truly surged, and consumers—particularly Millennials and Gen-Z— have embraced pictures and videos as a way to gather and share information.

All of this goes to show that typical TV and print ads have become a thing of the past. With an increasingly digital world, paired with a rising generation that hates advertisements but love videos, it’s safe to say that a shift toward more engaging, branded, visual media is soon to become a necessity.

They Expect Tailored Content

Express digital marketing used on campus

As the demand for video content continues to grow, marketers must also be aware that the one-size-fits-all approach to their advertising strategies are soon to also become a thing of the past. Running the same video campaign across all digital channels won’t be enough to address Gen-Z’s need for content. A consumer’s attention span for an ad on digital is much shorter than it is for one on TV, which means different story arcs and ways of triggering emotion are needed. Even the part of the screen that viewers focus on while watching a video varies from TVs to laptops to cell phones.

There are vast opportunities that come with the new digital revolution, but there are also new practices and ways of thought that marketers, and businesses alike, must consider. Recognizing and embracing these changes are the only way marketers are going to be able to truly capture the attention of Gen-Z. This is a generation with a set of goals and beliefs that are waiting to be tapped into. These young people want to engage in authentic dialogue and be inspired by the content they’re exposed to. Do your advertisements answer this call?

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How can YMC Help?

Want to engage the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics with branded content? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—and we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

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