82% of Gen Z skip ads given the opportunity, 69% of Gen Z actively look for something else to do whilst the ad is playing if they can’t skip it. We can blame the shortening attention spans of today’s teenagers, the omnipresent multi-screening habits or the ad blocking culture. I can’t help but wonder though, do we, marketers, not have something to do with it? Aren’t we to blame for the hatred for advertising amongst the 16-19 year olds?
We pumped millions of advertising dollars into Facebook and Google, lowered the quality of the ads, reduced them to mediocre banners and saved creativity for the big brands and big campaigns but we failed to maintain the same level on the day to day, ‘always on’ activities. We let our guard down and weakened the quality control thinking that if something is viewed on a mobile screen then its creativity is less important and the format more forgiving than what we produce for TV, OOH or cinema.
I blame performance marketing for the fact we don’t get excited by adverts anymore. ‘Performance marketing’, the term dramatically overused in the last couple of years, (and one of my most hated advertising buzzwords) has no real meaning – all marketing serves a ‘performance’ purpose, that’s its raison d’être! The term shouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor quality ads or lack of innovative thinking. Just because an ad is tactically placed and cleverly targeted it doesn’t make it any better in the eyes of its receiver – it might sound more intriguing when explained by a marketing agency during a pitch process but try to impress a consumer with it and you fail miserably. Especially when a consumer is as sophisticated and digitally savvy as today’s teenagers.
Gen Z account for $29 to $143 billion (around £22 to £109 billion) in direct spending and influence 93% of parents’ household purchases. They make up a quarter of the population and by 2020 will represent 40% of all consumers. They hold a lot of power. So if non-skippable, desktop display or banner adverts are not what inspires Gen Z-ers to buy a product, then why do marketers still serve them those formats? Let’s listen to our audience more, do our homework and understand their behaviour better so we can respond with content that resonates with consumers, inspires them and enhances their digital experiences rather than annoys them.