The digital advertising ecosystem of today is a dynamic and fast-moving world where each click and impression are analysed in detail. Of all the demographics that marketers target, Gen Z stands out.

Not only for their spending power, but also for their unique consumption patterns and expectations from digital media.

Coming from a generation of digital natives in an online world, the expectations of Gen Zs for advertising might differ to what’s expected. Understanding what they really want from digital advertising requires delving into the nuances of their digital language and their expectations for authenticity, engagement, and values alignment.

Authenticity and Engagement Above All

Information saturation is a Gen Z norm, where almost every brand is constantly competing for attention. Authenticity is what differentiates successful advertisers in this crowded space.

Image source: Everlane – All Things Supply Chain

This generation requires brands to be transparent and authentic. For instance, Everlane’s radical transparency in sourcing and pricing. The notion of knowing where a product comes from and how it’s made is an attractive positive point for Gen Zs, and one that works well in the company’s favour.

Being authentic is not just about being genuine – it’s also because it’s honest, ethical and reliable.

Image source: Wieden+Kennedy Nike Dream Crazier Work Page

With authenticity as its base, relevant engagement also plays a role in the process. Gen Z prefers to be active participants rather than be passive consumers.

Nike’s Dream Crazier campaign not only talks about the products, but also presents concerns with various social issues and affects Gen Z in a way that is above traditional marketing.

Multi-Platform Experiences and Peer Influence

Image source: Chipotle Mexican Grill Takes Over TikTok – The 12th Annual Shorty Awards

For Gen Zs, the digital world is not platform specific. They tend to glide freely from one platform to another and from one online habitat to another. A good digital advertising strategy should be seamless among platforms, including Instagram and TikTok as well as other unconventional platforms such as Twitch or Discord.

For example, Chipotle’s integration on TikTok has managed to utilise the native features of the platform such as challenges and filters, creating an engaging presence that appeals to younger audiences in all locations.

Image source: Agenic

With that said, influencer marketing proves to also be an effective tool of reaching out to Gen Z, as this group rates the opinion of influencers almost as high as that of their peers and many influencers are counted as members of their inner circle.

A standout case is Glossier’s brand strategy that uses micro-influencers to generate a personal connection with the customers.

Visual and Video

Image source: Spotify Newsroom

The video content consumption by Gen Z is far ahead of other forms with TikTok, YouTube, and others at the vanguard. Video-oriented advertising, such as short-form videos with easily digestible content is surprisingly powerful.

The success of Spotify’s Wrapped campaign shows how personalised data helps to generate social content, and how the modern youth appreciate visual content.

Forward-Looking: In anticipation of Gen Alpha

The digital advertising content that Gen Z wants includes:

  • Authenticity
  • Engagement via relevant and interactive content
  • Smooth experiences across multiple platforms
  • Peer influence
  • Compelling visual storytelling

Now, while we are adjusting our strategies to the requirements of Gen Z, it’s also important to shift our focus to Gen Alpha, the next generation of digital natives.

The generation that is coming up is likely to extend the trends set by Gen Z especially around digital fluency and the increase expectations for personalisation and interactivity in advertising.

Staying ahead as marketers means that we not only comprehend these basic cravings but also to constantly develop our tactics to suit the evolving digital world. This guarantees that our communications not only ring true, but also echo down generations.

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