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Oct. 18, 2022

Gen Z and the TikTok Takeover

Gen Z and the TikTok Takeover

Did you know that 63% of Gen Z are using ad blockers?

And if that weren’t bad enough, 99% say they’re ready to skip your video ad as soon as it starts playing. Mix in a startling amount of programmatic ad fraud and it starts to seem like none of the old tricks are working.

This episode is the primer on how the $100B global opportunity to engage Gen Z could be the ultimate test for marketers in understanding offline media and advertising in the real world.






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Gen Z and The TikTok Takeover

Did you know that 63% of Gen Z are using ad blockers?

And if that weren’t bad enough, 99% say they’re ready to skip your video ad as soon as it starts playing. Mix in a startling amount of programmatic ad fraud and it starts to seem like none of the old tricks are working.

It’s a simple truth but it bears repeating - we are in the attention arbitrage business. Whether as brand marketers or media publishers, our objective is to buy attention and sell something worth more than what we paid to sell it.

A recent study by global consumer research firm, Bulbshare reveals that 3 out of 4 Gen Z’ers report “feeling bombarded with advertisements throughout their daily lives, with 74% finding themselves irritated by this incursion on their time”. Irritated. They are literally evoking a negative emotional reaction.  And they aren’t just considering it a mild disruption either, with 1 in 4 finding advertising to be extremely intrusive, while 50% believe it is only somewhat disruptive.

The worst offender are pop-up ads, according to almost 80% of participants followed closely by social media ads with the report finding that the annoyance is sifting through paid ads and sponsored posts just to see what your friends are doing, something you can relate to, I’m sure. The third least annoying ad format was found to be TV, so, congrats TV…probably feels good to be third place on this list. 

Here’s what is really interesting about this study - TV, radio, podcast, social media, and pop-up ads ALL had a highly negative response rate - whereas billboards and print ads were rated as inoffensive comparatively. 

I know, I know, probably no surprise that an ad that is actually interrupting the thing you want to do is more likely to be perceived as annoying or offensive than a picture on stick on the side of the road, but it’s really pretty primal if you distill it all the way down. It’s my choice to ignore that picture on a stick or I can choose to look at it, my call. But when you force me to watch an ad in exchange for the thing I want…well, Gen Z reports that emotional response as a feeling of ‘powerlessness’. Not exactly inspiring the brand affinity vibes, so tread lightly. Choose your timing. Be thoughtful with how you use the moment. I hate to say it’s that easy, but it’s that easy.

It doesn’t mean don’t make offers and don’t NOT have a call to action. In fact, not making enough offers or making me guess at what you want me to do could be part of the reason it’s annoying. I mean, if you want to ask me out, ask me out and tell me where we’re going.

Get this, the study goes on to say that when asked how they occupy themselves during a commercial break, half of the participants said they talk with their friends or family who they’re watching with. And almost 7 out of 10  of those people say they are more likely to buy a product recommended by their friends and family over that which has been advertised to them…that ad that they blocked, skipped, and ignored anyway. In fact, 81% say that they are more likely to trust real opinions than an ad.

So how do you engage an entire generation that doesn’t want to hear from you and doesn’t trust you? Well, it could be time to lean into making what’s old, new again and pairing it with a few new tricks. 

According to Pew Research, Nearly 40% of Gen Z prefer TikTok for online searches, according to internal data from Google, which was first reported by TechCrunch. But wait, there’s more. 

Gen Z has become increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of Google's search results. The report found that Gen Z is, you guessed it, annoyed with sifting through ads to find the results relevant to them. Shoot, I’m starting to think I’m Gen Z because the same things annoy me. TikTok on the otherhand gives you a number of different ways to quickly discover content.

Specifically, Gen Z is turning to TikTok for searches on lighter topics, like recipes, fashion tips, and bar recommendations and if you’re Google, that should be scary, because for the past 7 years Google has defined those types of searches as “micro-moments” or “the digital reflex when we grab our phones because we want to know something, go somewhere, do something, or buy something” and these key inflection points are the moments of influence that brands all fight to win - aka the stuff that drives all of that paid ad revenue.

They aren’t out altogether on Google though, when it comes to heavier stuff like politics and world events, Google is still king…but that’s like TV being third place on the least annoying list if you ask me. It’s not the bottom-funnel, purchase-intent keywords that brands are used to building entire ad strategies around.

All right, here’s the recap - Gen Z doesn’t want to see your ads online. When they do see your ads, they ignore them, and in the moment right before they ignore them, they are deciding that they don’t trust you BUT they value advocacy and enjoy being entertained. 

The good news? None of this is new. We’ve always sought social proof and validation in our decision-making process. Whether that's where to eat or which outfit to wear, validation is almost inherent to decision-making. It's how we hedge risk in the most practical way. 

The new challenge is in how to effectively reach them and for brands that were born and scaled online, reaching this audience is its own unique challenge and adding offline media can be a great way to cut through the noise and mainline the zeitgeist but here’s the really cool thing about adding offline media to your already successful online strategy - it consistently unlocks new growth across your entire mix because it turns out that we all find those same things to be annoying which means the opportunity to make what's old, new again, is within reach.

The marketers who figure out offline marketing now will be the brand builders of the next decade because history is repeating itself, so here's to the alchemist.

Remember - Share of voice equals share of mind, and share of mind equals share of market so when you have something to say, make it count.

Until next time, make sure to like and subscribe to this podcast wherever you’re listening from and share it with a colleague or client and start a conversation today.