Gen Z audiences are more than side-parted hairstyles and TikTok dances — though those are important. As the first digitally native generation, they have a unique approach to internet culture and content, preferring an unfiltered, wholly authentic, and generally positive online experience.
As Jeeng found in a recent consumer survey, Gen Z and Millennial audiences also have high expectations for personalization — not just on social media, but on tried-and-true channels like email and publishers’ websites. In fact, we found that nearly 2 out of 3 Gen Z and millennial users get their news on publisher sites, and 1 in 3 say it’s their primary news source. They’re even more likely to get their news there than Baby Boomers and Gen X, because they find direct-from-publisher content to be more trustworthy and credible than social content.
That’s why publishers and marketers need to be finding the right channels for building one-to-one relationships with Gen Z consumers. After all, they’re more diverse, educated, and socially conscious than other generations. And they don’t want their information to be sugar-coated. They want to hear directly from businesses on platforms where they’re already active and consuming content.
To help, we collected insights from marketers and publishers on how they’re tapping into this young, digitally savvy audience and evolving their engagement strategies.
Here’s what they have to say.
1. Erin Weaver, senior director of audience development, Group Nine Media
“Just be authentic. They can smell B.S. They can smell an overproduced video with an agenda a mile away, and they’re not into it. So we keep everything, which is very cost-friendly, pretty low-budget and low-touch. COVID has actually been kind of great at forcing our content teams to get creative with creating content in their homes, and it fits in really naturally with the content Gen Z themselves are creating. And establish a consistent voice that is authentic to your brand in a way that’s very approachable.”
2. Peter Adams, SVP of education, News Literacy Project
“Their generation is sort of infograzing much of the time. And they’re seeing way more headlines, posts, comments, memes than any other generation in history so they’re having to make really snap decisions and also to be really conscious and deliberate about what sticks.”
3. Andrew Strauser, VP of content, Magnolia Network
“As a content developer and producer, it’s all about the partnership with creators that Gen Z admires. That’s how you get their attention. They have people that they love and admire, and they want to see those people and they trust those people […] The biggest factor in trying to reach that audience is you want to hang out where they hang out, and that’s with the people that they like.”
4. Craddock Close, social media associate, The Brandon Agency
“I am much more reluctant to share my phone number online than my email address. When sharing my phone number, I get tons of calls and texts. They turn into spam-like phone calls that are tough to avoid. When I give my email address online it is much easier to see who is sending the message. I can see what they are offering, and I can mark as spam or unsubscribe if I am not interested. It is much less intrusive.”
5. Jeff Kupietzy, CEO, Jeeng
“While Gen Z represents a new audience, the strategies to retain them are not new. The channels that work in terms of retention are tried-and-true things like email. Because they’re highly mobile, 50% of [Gen Zers] check their email many times a day. There is the ability to connect with them through that medium, and a lot of our digital brands have realized that having that becomes a direct connection that is persistent and consistent.”
6. Julie Arbit, global SVP of insights, VICE
“With new voices and new platforms entering the media landscape by the minute, the competition for young people’s attention has never been greater. Combine that with a young generation that has never been hungrier for content or more savvy about how to access it, and you have a whole new approach to content consumption. Understanding this new mindset is essential for anyone who is trying to reach this young audience.”
7. Andy McCune, cofounder, Unfold
“We feel like we have the world on our shoulders as far as issues like climate change go. Other generations have neglected this and passed this onto us. When we make purchasing decisions, sustainability is very important to us.”
8. Tiffany Ashitey, director of partnerships, Acast
“The definition of celebrity and influence is so broad nowadays. If they’re authentic and consistent, it doesn’t matter, necessarily, if they’ve been in television or movies. People are gravitating to the story and the connection to the influencer. It’s the same in the audio space. Consistency is definitely key. But it’s all storytelling, regardless of the platform.”
9. Antonis Kalogeropoulos, research fellow, Reuters Institute
“Young news users also rely on news aggregators like Apple News, Flipboard, and Upday, particularly when they use news in ‘time filler’ moments or want to get a quick update about what is happening during intercepted moments (e.g. via a news alert). Aggregators are increasingly prominent on smartphones, where headline lists can be accessed by swiping left or right from the smartphone homescreen on many handsets.”
10. Jeff Fromm, youth marketing and trends expert
“Never forget how discerning Gen-Z (sometimes referred to as ‘True Gen’) is. They are extremely resourceful at getting the information they want, and at verifying it. This has profound implications for companies in terms of where they stand on social justice, and in terms of what a brand’s driving purpose is. How can your brand be more upfront and transparent with your Gen-Z consumers?”
Reach Gen Z audiences with direct, personalized messaging
There’s no cutting corners when it comes to attracting Gen Z audiences. They want direct, personalized, authentic experiences from businesses and channels they can trust.
It’s always been Jeeng’s mission to help publishers and advertisers deliver exactly that. Our comprehensive platform gives you the resources to launch multichannel campaigns on tried-and-true platforms like email, web, and push notification. And as we’ve found, that’s exactly where Gen Z wants to be and where they want to hear from your brand.
So all that’s left to ask is: Are you building personalized relationships with your most valuable audiences?
Contact us to get started.