With all the talk about Millennials, we sometimes neglect the folks coming behind them – teens. Remember that some Millennials are already well into their 30s, and up to 20 years older than the young teens already immersed in digital cultures.
According to eMarketer, Millennials are more likely to use ad blockers than teenagers, though the reason for this might have more to do with a lower rate of device ownership than teens’ feelings about ads. Don’t assume young people are learning to love advertisements.
Of course, even if they don’t own as many devices as Millennials, teens have unprecedented access to smartphones. According to Pew Research Center data, 73 percent of teens had access to smartphones already in 2015. Some even suggest teens are replacing recreational drug use with smartphones.
This might all sound a bit extreme, but the point is that teenagers are coming up quickly behind Millennials, and could prove to be even more complicated when it comes to advertising. It’s time for advertisers to start paying attention to this generation.
Admitting Ad Influence Doesn’t Mean Teens Trust Ads
Data from YouGov shows that, unlike older people, teenagers openly feel advertising influences them. Of people aged 13 to 17, 58 percent say ads help them decide what they want and choose what to buy, and 55 percent report enjoying ads featuring favorite celebrities. Those over 17 generally feel the opposite about ad influence.
However, it’s important to differentiate admission of influence from trust. When asked if they trust the ads they see, read or hear, teenagers are pretty evenly split. We should note that the levels of trust and mistrust do vary. Most teens said ads were somewhat trustworthy or somewhat not trustworthy, while 9 percent said they are very trustworthy and 14 percent said they are not at all trustworthy.
Interestingly, though they claim to be less influenced than teenagers, 61 percent of people in older generations say they generally trust the ads they see, read or hear. This is a slight uptick in adult trust from a previous YouGov survey.
Data from Kantar Millward Brown tells us that teens (also called Generation Z) are less patient with invasive digital ads than are older people. While they prefer desktop display and online search ads to mobile and video ads (like older generations), they are more drawn to skippable videos than are Millennials and Gen Xers.
For branded content in general, teens prefer seeing it in their social news feeds, followed by branded events and social content from celebrities.
To avoid ads, Gen Z folks are most likely to skip them or pay for premium services. Other popular tactics include simply doing something else or looking away from the screen.
Teens will install desktop ad blockers because they feel both interrupted and annoyed by ads. Ads slowing computers or being irrelevant are of significantly less concern. Mobile ad blockers get installed for similar reasons but to a lesser extent.
Tips for Advertising to Teens
Remember: Despite the fact that teens hesitate to trust ads and are likely to avoid them if possible, they’re still influenced by them.
Kantar Millward Brown goes on to provide some tips for advertising to the various generations. Gen Z is noticeably different from Millennials and Gen X in terms of where they’re most reachable.
Like older people, teens are most often reached by advertising at home. However, they’re more likely to be reached in public or in school than are their older counterparts. They are less reachable at work (presumably because fewer of them hold jobs).
No matter their mindset, teens are generally more receptive to internet advertising than older generations. It’s only when they’re looking for information that they’re less receptive.
Teens’ preferred engagement options are finding out more and taking decisions, but trying to get them to join a conversation is going to have the least impact.
Generation Z is attracted to different content than Millennials and Gen X. Keep in mind the age gap between the ad creators and ad watchers, as well as teen ideals for style, tone, music and design. At the same time, be inclusive. Don’t alienate older generations, and highlight values that cross generations.
Earlier this year, we discussed reaching teens with digital advertising. Here are a few of the top tips from that piece:
- Teens, especially older ones, prefer smartphones to other devices, and use them mainly to text and chat.
- Shopping in physical stores is preferred to shopping online.
- Gen Z is relatively willing to share shopping history and contact details, but is far more private with personal details and payment info.
- Teens influence the household spending of their families, especially food, beverage and furniture purchases.
- Speak to teens by being funny, relatable and a little weird, yet also authentic and for a cause.
- Recognize the various digital environments teens inhabit, and find their specific “tribes” (and be respectful of the tribes’ cultures).
Perhaps most important is that you stand out from the clutter, because teens are constantly bombarded with all kinds of media. If you’re not creative, they’ll tune you out.
We might think of young teens as children, but the truth is that they’re already well-versed in the digital world and will be major consumers before we know it. Start paying attention to their preferences now to make them part of your target audience for years to come.