Gen Z hates ads in the same way they hate side parts and skinny jeans while still loving Bella Hadid and the indie sleaze revival. Which is to say, they don’t hate them at all. They just want a newer version.
With every generation, consumer preferences evolve. So should advertising.
In this article, we’ll chat about why Gen Z hates traditional advertising, and what companies can do instead to reach them.
Let’s get into it.
Does Gen Z Hate Ads?
Yes and no.
If your brand is trying to reach a younger audience, don’t bother with traditional ads. Even ads on the apps younger people love, like TikTok, will miss the mark.
Gen Zers use ad blockers with lethal precision. They can clock an ad on their For You Feed (FYF) and scroll past ads on TikTok before even noticing who the ad is from.
So don’t waste your time. Spend it elsewhere instead.
What Ads Work on Gen Z?
So what if Gen Z is immune to our charms? That only means we need to be more charming.
There are two important things to remember when trying to win over a Gen Z audience:
Be authentic: just be real (no, not the app, although some marketers are trying that, too). Authenticity is the absolute bare minimum for any company advertising to the newer generation.
Yes, there are companies that do a good job of faking authenticity — if you know anyone on the marketing team behind the Grimace Shake trend, please give them my number — but it’s so much easier to just cut the parlor tricks. Your Gen Z audience will appreciate it.
Deliver value: any ads with too heavy a focus on conversion will spook a Gen Z audience. It’s best to target these customers with content that is primarily designed to add value to their lives.
After that, all the traditional advertising rules apply. A great hook. A clear call to action. Consistent branding. You know what I’m talking about.
Types of Ads Gen Z Doesn’t Hate
There are some formulas that have already cracked this code.
Here they are:
Some say the influencers of yesterday are no more. I disagree.
Influencer marketing is changing, yes, but I say that’s a good thing. More recent influencer trends and changes like micro-influencer marketing and hyper-niche creators make it easier to cast a wider net and develop a portfolio of social proof for your brand, while still reaching the right audience.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
UGC is a must for most social media marketing campaigns these days, but this is especially true of campaigns targeting Gen Z.
The important thing with UGC is to make sure you’re adhering to the two important rules listed above. Gen Z won’t care if you get 500 UGC content creators to make fake reviews for your brand. They’ll catch you.
And once you lose their trust, it’s not easy to get it back.
Product placement has been a major player in the advertising game forever. But it’s about to become even more important in social media marketing.
There’s this strange dichotomy that happens on social media when it comes to product placement. The exact same influencer could make two videos about the same product and one will flop where the other will fly. The difference: the flopper blatantly placed the product front and center while the flier waited for someone to comment about the product before revealing any information about it.
It seems counter-intuitive. But it works.
Just visit the comment section of any Get Ready With Me or What I Wore This Week video and you’ll see swarms of people in the comments asking: what lip shade is that? and: pants?
Any Gen-Zer knows this universal truth:
Finding product recs in the comment section > finding product recs via ads.
Pair this technique with high-value, authentic content and you’ll be speaking Gen Z’s language.
Find the Right Audience With Hire a Writer
If you want to sell to the new generation, you’ll need to master some new tricks.