5 tips for engaging Gen Z in TV marketing

The digitally native generation does not watch TV the same way baby boomers, Gen Xers, and even millennials might. Here are five tips we picked up at NYC Advertising Week that marketers can use to engage Gen Z with TV:

Discoverability and direct targeting are key

  • Gen Z not only expects personalized ads, but programming too. “It’s a very on-demand culture right now,” said Aaron Sobol, head of investments and media partnerships at Unilever, while speaking at NYC Advertising Week’s “How to Go Big with Gen Z in TV Streaming” event. “Primetime is the time that works for them.”
  • The age group is intentional about what they watch, but they also expect algorithms to serve them relevant content.
  • Overly personal ads can feel invasive, according to 75.4% of Gen Z adults surveyed by Creatopy. But if the content itself is targeted, consumers benefit from a personalized experience, and targeted ads will have a more natural feel.

Values-based messaging is expected

  • Involvement in social and political issues is more important to Gen Z than to any other US age group, with 42% saying they always focus on values. Purposeful messaging is no longer a perk—it’s an expectation.
  • “With Gen Z, they will gravitate toward brands that have a similar value system. So I think that’s really a core principle,” said Sobol. “You can’t force it. You have to do your homework.”

Make multiscreen a priority

  • Another given for Gen Z? They’re multitasking. This year, some 90% of Gen Z internet users in the US will watch TV and use the internet simultaneously, more than any other age group.
  • “We see it as a big unlock for future engagement,” said Kate Brady, senior director of next gen direct to consumer at PepsiCo.
  • In some streamlined future, brands can reach consumers on TV and mobile in tandem. That’s a massive ecommerce opportunity—if done right.

Approach live TV with an open mind

  • Gen Z still watches live TV, but they’re “actively avoiding traditional communications or commercials,” said Brady.
  • Over 40% of US TV viewers across age groups think the number of ads they see while watching live TV is unreasonable, more than any other TV medium, according to Hub Research.
  • The place to reach Gen Zers watching live TV might not actually be in the commercials, but via the social media channels they scroll during those ad breaks.
  • Oreo was an early adopter of this strategy with its Super Bowl XLVII tweet heard around the world. In 2013, a social campaign was a quirky, cheaper alternative to expensive ad spots. Now, a social campaign is necessary and can be more effective than those pricey positions.

Quantity is not quality

  • Targeting a lot of consumers isn’t the same as targeting engaged consumers.
  • Premium video can refer to “quality” versus “reach,” noted Sobol. Scale is important, but with enhanced discoverability and personalization, targeting the right Gen Z consumers is vital.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.

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