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What Gen Z Wants from Ads

When it comes to ads, Gen Z is all about the entertainment aspect. That’s according to a new study from NCSolutions, which asked 2,186 adults (18+) to rate their preferences regarding the content found in television spots.

Ads deemed to be creative and entertaining ranked number one for 52% of Gen Zers (born 1997-2012), compared to 42% of baby boomers (born 1946-1964). Additionally, 43% of Gen Z members gravitate toward ads that are funny, compared to only 39% of older adults. Younger demographics care less about ads seen as explicitly informative, perhaps because they’re used to quickly accessing product info online.

By contrast, baby boomers crave ads that directly relate to their specific shopping interests. In fact, 52% of this demographic said they want to see advertisements regarding sales or promotions for products they buy, compared to just 36% of Gen Z members.

When it comes to purpose-driven ads, Gen Zers are roughly three times more likely than baby boomers to watch ads aligned with the social initiatives they feel drawn to (17% vs. 6%), they are less likely to get upset when a spot pushes social messaging that contradicts their own beliefs compared to older demographics (44% compared to 35%).

So what makes Gen Z cringe when it comes to TV and video ads? A whopping 58% don’t like interruptions to the content they’re watching. That’s in line with information recently sourced by Hub Entertainment Research, which found that nearly 17% of all viewers “can’t tolerate ads, no matter what.” Still, the vast majority of consumers (59%) said they’d rather watch ads to save $4 or $5 on streaming platform memberships, which is contributing to the growth of ad-supported streaming platforms. Another 35% said they’d be willing to watch ads in order to access shows they care about. Interestingly, NCSolutions found that only 38% of baby boomers are bothered by interruptions in their viewing experience, perhaps because they watch more traditional linear TV than their younger counterparts, which has more inherent interruptive advertising moments. 

As for the platforms themselves, Gen Z is nearly four times more receptive to ads seen on social media than baby boomers (72% vs. 19%), while boomers prefer to watch ads on cable television (45% vs. 28%) and broadcast TV (58% vs. 20%).

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