June 15, 2022

How Paid Video Advertising Reaches Gen Z Customers

In part two of our series targeting specific customer groups with paid video advertising, we’re taking a good look at young people (in the non-creepiest way possible). Specifically, we’re analysing the fresh-faced youth of Generation Z – those currently in their teens to mid-20s. By checking out what makes them such unique consumers, we can also see their needs and trends, and why they’re a fantastic audience for paid video advertising.

1) remember that gen z aren’t millenials and millenials aren’t gen z

First of all, closely look at what you mean when you say you’re targeting ‘young’ customers. The youngest Gen Z’s were born in 2012, while the oldest Millenials are now in their early 40s. And while the two generations inevitably share some characteristics, this huge age gap often results in stark differences of culture, lifestyle, and shopping behaviour.

The consumer insight company Numerator sheds light on some of these statistical differences in their article ‘From A to Gen Z: The Next Generation of Shoppers’ ( These differences for Gen Z include wider cultural diversity, higher interest in social media and mobile advertising than web and desktop displays, greater responsiveness to ‘special events’ from retailers, and a stronger lean toward impulse purchases. While Millenials are inclined to be more fiscally conscious (including using coupons and pre-planning their shopping lists), Gen Z may be more easily enticed with an in-store event promoted with smart placement of paid video advertising on social media that’s strongly optimised for mobile viewing.

2) prepare to deal with “digital natives”

Unique to all older generations, Gen Zs in the western world have never known a time without the internet as an inherent part of life. For advertisers, this is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, growing up in the streaming age means Gen Z are used to perceiving pre-roll and mid-roll ads as something to be skipped, blocked, or otherwise digitally sidestepped. These kinds of ads are seen as a peripheral nuisance at most, like a fly buzzing around the edges of your vision, begging to be swatted at.

But on the much more positive hand, Gen Z have grown to see advertising as a natural part of social media, and are very receptive to product inspiration from the right sources. Gen Z are highly influenced by the opinions and trends of their peers (as many of us are/were in our younger years), and even more so with the instant sharability of social media, so connect your paid video advertising with (the right) social media influencers and their circles for the most effective visibility and market penetration.

3) respect their time

Let’s get something straight: Gen Z do not have a short attention span. Instead, they are purposely impatient. Having been raised in a highly distractive and entertainment-saturated world, they are very used to proactively choosing where to put their attention, when to move their attention elsewhere, and what to move it to. Unlike past generations where traditional advertising and broadcast media served up a seemingly immutable set of options for consumption, Gen Z were born into a more open-world game where the internet, streaming services, and social media offer a searchable experience, and where content and advertising is curated around their choices.

What does this mean for today’s brands and advertisers? It means meeting Gen Z where they are and understanding that less is definitely more when it comes to advertising and young people today. It means being ultra efficient with your video messaging and being very up front with what makes your brand unique. Once you’ve done the hard yards of finding where your audience is, you have a few seconds at most to make your impact.

4) offer a faster and better experience with new tools

To add on to this desire for efficiency, Gen Z are actively interested in services that make the shopping experience quicker and easier – especially if those services are new and interesting. An Accenture study on Gen Z shopping habits ( shows almost three-quarters of Gen Z shoppers are interested in or already using voice activated ordering, while 71% are interested in automatic reordering services. The greater willingness to use voice services for ordering and subscription services for replenishment indicates the strong desire for a more hands-off shopping experience, with far less of the hesitancy around data management of these newer services than the older generations.

For this reason, it’s wise to be bold with highlighting newer methods of service in the call to action of your youth-aimed paid video advertisements, and to make those services as streamlined as possible.

5) understand the brand ‘experience’ is more important than ever

As might be expected of teens and young adults, Gen Z are very much concerned with the opinions of others around them, and how they themselves fit into those views. This goes both ways, including being more strongly influenced by word of mouth opinion, and being more inclined to share their own opinions with others through company websites and social media.

It’s for this reason that making your brand a curated ‘experience’ that’s worth sharing is so important for maximum customer reach. This is especially true in store: for example, creating ‘instagrammable’ moments, interactive shopping experiences, and curated special events that are worthwhile sharing with their network on and offline.

Yes, you heard right: the in-store experience still matters to the youngin’s of today. Despite growing up as digital natives, in-store advertising still outranks social media as the most influential advertising medium for Gen Z’s. In fact, younger Gen Z’s (classified as 16-20 year olds in this GWI data: are the most likely to prefer shopping in-store vs online out of all age groups 57 and under.

Ironically, it’s likely this preference for a physical consumer experience is due to the ability to visually share experiences online. After all, people have to get their Instagram pics from somewhere, and the stronger the experience, the more valuable it is as sharable content.

So where does paid video advertising come into this? By acting as the missing link in the online/offline consumer flow experience. It goes a little something like this:

  • Jen Z browses her Instagram feed for new posts from her favourite teen food influencer and sees a paid video advertisement for a new boutique cookie shop downtown running a special opening day event. The video focuses on the visual experiences of customers with extravagant cookie ice cream floats and now Jen simply must check it out.
  • Jen Z heads in-store for the event and takes some photos of her experiences
  • Jen Z goes back home and posts her photos on Instagram
  • The cycle starts again as Jen’s feed is served with more curated ads based on her interactions and experiences.

Like with all well-constructed advertising campaigns, paid video advertising is at its best when it takes the wider shopping experience into account, and acts as a seamless extension of that experience.

digital natives
gen Z
motion graphics
specific customer groups
Written by
Maree Railton

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