The days of tailoring all marketing toward Millennials are over. Now, it’s all about Generation Z—the radical, on-the-go, constantly connected consumers aged 14 to 23.

As the first innately mobile generation (many of today’s Gen Zer’s have had an iPhone since they were 4), it’s easy to assume that online marketing is the only option with this youthful audience. But in reality, with today’s fragmented market, the rise of digital ad blockers and the unique nuances and preferences of the generation itself, out-of-home—arguably a more traditional advertising method—is actually a much more fitting option.

OOH’s bite-sized messaging, disruptive placements and ability to integrate with mobile and experiential marketing make it the perfect way to reach Gen Z audiences, especially as their usage of TV, newspapers, magazines and other potential advertising mediums continues to wane.

The Opportunity in Today’s Fragmented Market

Today’s young people are changing, and they consume media in far different ways than just a few years ago.

We’re seeing newspapers hit their lowest readership in decades, and viewership of both network TV and local TV is down. As usage of these media declines so does the marketing power they hold. This presents a prime opportunity for out-of-home advertising to claim the throne. In fact, according to Borrell Associates, OOH is expected to grow 5 percent by 2018.

It’s no surprise either, as Americans become more and more mobile—and take on more flexible, remote-based jobs—marketing needs to be as transient as they are. Americans are driving more, traveling more and becoming more urban-concentrated—all of which lends itself to a more OOH-based marketing approach.

If you’re sitting there wondering, “Could digital advertising reach Gen Zers better?” then think again.

Though digital ads are certainly an option for reaching the younger audience, the rise of ad blockers poses a big hurdle for this method. According to the 2017 Adblock Report from PageFair, the use of ad blockers grew 30 percent between in 2016, with 11 percent of the entire web-using world now leveraging them. According to CNBC, nearly 70 percent of Gen Zers actively avoid ads on the web.

The Difference with Generation Z

According to estimates, Generation Z will account for a whopping 40 percent of all consumers by 2020, so when we say it’s important to understand this up-and-coming audience, we mean it. It’s imperative.

So what makes Gen Zers different from other generations that preceded them? More importantly, how are they different from the also-digitally-driven Millennials that came first?

For one, they’re less focused. There are many studies stating that the Gen Zer’s attention span is a mere 8 seconds long—a full four seconds shorter than the Millennials’ was thought to be.

It might seem a minor decline, but it’s actually quite substantial—cutting your time to reach and resonate with your audience down by nearly half. Many previously tried-and-true advertising methods, like TV commercials and lengthy PPC ads, just don’t stand a chance with these kind of windows.

Gen Zers are also more on the go than any group ever before. Born with a mobile device in their hands, they’ve been navigating the world since a very young age. They’re in tune with the global world, they travel more (both digitally and physically), and you can’t catch them static long.

According to Jim Sullivan, Director of Client Partnerships for Wilkins Media, “Evidence suggests that an integrated campaign, with OOH media included as a plan component is an effective strategy for reaching GenZ consumers”.  

Millward Brown  released its latest annual AdReaction study, measuring consumer attitudes and receptiveness to advertising.  They surveyed 24,000 Gen Z (16-19), Gen Y (20-34) and Gen X (35-49) consumers in 39 countries.  It concluded that traditional formats were preferred over digital, and OOH outpaced movies, magazines, newspapers and TV, with 55% of GenZ respondents preferring OOH Media.

“Taking their rising use of Ad blockers, shorter attention span and Gen Z’s preference for traditional media into consideration, OOH media is a complementary and effective tactic for any campaign targeting this growing consumer segment” says Sullivan.

Even more so than Millennials, Gen Zers are value-based. They know how much their time is worth, they know how to filter out unwanted information, and they expect brands to give them something in return for their attention. They want a two-way street, not to be shouted promo jargon at from the rooftops.

As Deep Patel puts it, “they are the most technologically fluent generation thus far, and they recognize the value of their attention. They don’t sit through ads. They don’t give heavily sponsored content the time of day. What they’re looking for is value.”

How OOH Fits in

OOH is the best of both worlds—able to deliver succinct, lightning-fast messages while also catching Gen Zers on the go and in their natural habitat. Add in the new ways out-of-home can integrate with both mobile and experiential marketing efforts, and it’s no wonder the strategy is poised for such growth over the coming years.

With out-of-home placements, advertisers can use signs, kiosks and in-store media to enhance existing mobile efforts—to promote discount codes and coupons, to drive consumers toward a sale or particular department, or to push local shoppers further down the sales funnel.

OOH placements can also deliver immediate value this way, offering easy access to promos, sales and information that can save them money in real-time, right when they need it. (FYI: Being finance-conscious is another big feature of the Gen Z consumer).

But the possibilities for OOH and Gen Z marketing aren’t just metaphorical. According to a recent study, consumers 16 to 34 are the single-most engaged out-of-home audience segment there is. The group outpaces others in every OOH format but airport viewership. Posters are particularly effective with the Generation Z market.

Leverage the Gen Z Gap

It pretty clear that Generation Z is changing marketing as we know it. Forget what you learned about the Millennial or how you reached the Xer or Boomer. Take advantage of today’s fragmented market, and leverage the growing out-of-home space to really reach Gen Zers in a way that resonates with them and gives them value.

Need help? Get in touch with us today.