Unlocking the Power of Gen Z: Tips for Effective Youth Ads
DEC 15 2022

Unlocking the Power of Gen Z: Tips for Effective Youth Ads

It has been a long and difficult journey for marketers to understand how to market to Gen Z. So it's no surprise that many panel discussions kicking off Advertising Week in New York, a hybrid conference, focused on capturing Gen Z's attention.

After all, Gen Z is and will continue to be the most important generation of shoppers — and has already accumulated over $140 billion of spending power. However, advertising to Gen Zers presents a unique set of challenges.

As the new year begins, brands are constantly evaluating marketing tactics proven to work with Millennials and Gen Z consumers previously, while looking for strategies that might resonate with them in the future.

The Zoomers are here, and it's time to rethink how we market to this media-savvy generation. If you’d also like to target Gen Z (properly) this coming year, you’ve opened the right tab. Here are some tips on how to have a successful youth advertising campaign.

Marketing to Gen Z: The Value

Let’s look at the characteristics and advertising potential of the generational group known as “digital natives.”

Generation Z consists of people who were born in 1995 or later. Around 27% of the total population in the US belongs to this group, which made them the largest generation in the US in 2020 (there were 86 million members).

In terms of diversity and educational attainment, Gen Z, whose members are 7-22 years old, is the most educated and diverse generation to date (Source: PEW). Gen Zers are widely recognized for their efforts to combat climate change, advocate gun control, and challenge incumbent politicians. Additionally, they're altering everything we used to know as “normal” by transforming the way we do business and how we advertise.

In the same way as millennials before them, almost half of Gen Zers say they are online almost constantly. However, contrary to millennials, Zoomers cannot remember the time before smartphones and social media.

Gen Z’s power is growing. Millennials might be the biggest consumers, and Baby Boomers might be the wealthiest, but it is Gen Z’s opinion that influences those groups’ buying decisions.

There is a need for brands to learn how to appeal to Gen Z along with other generations, such as Millennials. In spite of the similarities between Gen Z and Millennials, understanding Gen Z's online behaviors and social preferences is the key to connecting with them. It is only then that marketing efforts can be done right.

Youth Advertising Done Right

In the marketing industry, youth marketing is a widely used term. It involves the use of marketing strategies to communicate with young people to encourage them to buy products and services.

It is possible to implement youth marketing strategies through TV ads, print ads, or digital ads. Among the most common youth marketing strategies are media marketing, musical advertising, athletic marketing, promotional events, viral campaigns, educational programs, free samples, and influencer marketing.

In recent years, marketers have targeted children at an increasingly younger age with the goal of creating “Affiliation with a brand name” as soon as possible. There’s a reason every marketing team strives to perfect its youth advertising.

The average young person watches more than 40000 ads just on TV each year. Moreover, youngsters are flooded with advertisements on the Internet, through publications, and even at school.

Businesses see young people as a valuable consumer group, as they are the ones who shape their families' and friends' purchasing habits. Besides being consumers, they can have an impact on the things their families buy, their vacation plans, and their friends' wardrobes.

Youth Advertising - The Sensitive Side

According to research, children younger than 8 do not have the cognitive and psychological powers to resist advertising. They don't understand the concept of selling intent, so they often believe advertising claims without question.

You might find it interesting to know that in Sweden and Norway, all advertising directed at children younger than 12 is prohibited, in Greece toy advertising is prohibited after 10 p.m., and in Denmark and Belgium advertising directed at children is severely restricted.

What about the US? Well, back in the Seventies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted hearings, examined the available research, and determined that it was unjust and deceptive to target children under the age of 6.

In fact, in 1998, the Federal Trade Commission passed the COPPA privacy law in response to the rapid growth of online marketing techniques that targeted children in the 1990s.

COPPA sets certain requirements for websites and online services that target children under 13. Here below, you can find more details about COPPA regulations and history.

COPPA Explained

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, also known as COPPA, aims to protect children's privacy and personally identifiable information when they access the Internet.

Under the law, there are rules regarding the use of information about children under the age of 13 that are more restrictive than those about older adults and allow parents to monitor some of the information shared by their children.

Although the law dates back to the early days of the Internet, social media and automated advertising have made it even more relevant today.

Here are a few of the items COPPA specifies.

Navigating the guidelines and youth advertising restrictions can be challenging and get you or your team in trouble.

Let us help you. As a leading kid and family advertising expert, we know what works. Driver Studio’s leading COPPA-compliant technology is trusted by the world's largest brands to safely reach millions of people through ever-fragmented media channels.

You can find more information about our youth advertising services here.

Tips to Make Your Youth Marketing Campaigns More Effective

There is no doubt that young people consume differently than adults and older people. Each group has its own fashion styles, aesthetics, and product preferences. In addition, they use different platforms and follow different trends than adults.

If your business offers products that appeal to young people, you should know how and where to market them. You need to use a variety of marketing strategies to attract tweens and teenagers. To achieve this, you must find out what interests consumers in this age group, and be willing to take some risks if you want them to consider your products and services.

Here are eight useful tips that can help you have a more successful youth advertising campaign.

Take Advantage Of Where They Already Spend Their Time

The Gen Z demographic shares an exclusive relationship with information technology and communication that previous generations did not, since smartphones and the Internet were introduced to them as children.

A recent New York Times article highlights a 17 percent increase in teen and tween screen time in the last two years— significantly higher than four years ago. Therefore, you should have a social networking page for your business in order to reach a young audience regularly.

Update your images on all your social networks, along with a link to your business website on each one. Share status updates on social media every day, asking teens questions they can answer to determine what items they like best.

Generation Z is also loyal to brands as long as their mission, product quality, and customer service remain high. More than half of Gen Zers (66%) believe that once they find a brand they like, that brand will remain in their shopping cart for a long time.

Having strong tech and marketing to Generation Z with clear, honest messaging will earn brands this loyalty.

Be Transparent & Avoid Neutrality

Next, ensure you're being transparent and accountable for any mistakes you make when marketing to Gen Z.

Don't underestimate Gen Z's discerning nature. Their resourcefulness makes it easy for them to find and fact-check all the information they want. Consequently, brands must be careful when it comes to matters like their stance on social justice and their driving motives. In fact, most consumers today expect their brands to take a position on certain issues.

It’s counterproductive to remain neutral because of a lack of vision or out of fear of upsetting some consumers. Generation Z is concerned about company culture as well, so you should adhere to the same values internally and externally.

McKinsey's research shows that this generation is driven by the desire to find the truth. When marketers understand Gen Z's love of researching information and comparing data sources in their pursuit of truth, they can produce content that appeals to them.

The following are some causes that Gen Z tends to support:

You can also take note of these issues and leverage cause marketing to your advantage with a clear sense of your brand's values.

Image from Mikael Blomkvist from Pexels

The OG Video Platform - YouTube

Video and visually appealing content should be a top priority for catching the attention of young consumers. As a result of their reliance on mobile devices, this generation devours videos on their smartphones. Additionally, YouTube allows brands to reach their target audience directly through advertisements before and during videos.

Watching videos on YouTube is one of the most popular activities among preteens, and you shouldn’t forget that Gen Z practically grew up on this platform. It is amazing how popular unboxing videos and gaming videos are. This is an opportunity for advertisers to optimize their YouTube channels and make children aware of their products.

Children enjoy watching videos they like over and over again. Although this is no secret, it is extremely powerful for reaching a generation that grew up with YouTube and now TikTok. Speaking of which…

Don’t Forget About TikTok

TikTok, a platform for short-form videos, has over 680 million users worldwide and 25% of its users in the US are between the ages of 10 and 19.

In a nutshell, Gen Z IS TikTok.

TikTok has grown rapidly in recent years, breaking into the top ten websites in 2021. Over 1 billion visitors per month check out the For You Page, so for brands, using the platform for ad campaigns makes perfect sense.

Make Your Marketing Campaigns Interesting

Since there are so many apps, sharing options, and filters to choose from, static content or anything considered “boring” will most likely be ignored by “Zoomers.” Due to their short attention spans, you have about eight seconds to tell them why they should pay attention before they find something else to entertain themselves.

And what better way to make your youth advertising campaign stand out than to make it interesting?

As a start, you could create a contest, develop loyalty programs, or offer discounts that teens might find attractive. Give away free contest tickets to a teen who participates in local volunteer work. Offer free clothing to the young customer who refers the most customers to your store each month. Young people will be more likely to continue patronizing your business if your marketing campaigns are interesting.

Whenever you try to entice them with lots of text, chances are they'll just scroll past. Engaging this audience requires quality visuals and bite-sized content that gets down to the essentials.

Know Your Customers' Preferences & Ways of Thinking

Regardless of the generation you are marketing to, you need to know who your target customer is.

Gen Zers are innovative, multicultural, and better educated than previous generations. As a matter of fact, they’re on track to become the most educated generation in history. This generation also refuses to label themselves, embraces diversity, and carefully considers each option before making a purchase decision.

In order to capitalize on Gen Z's massive spending power, marketers need to understand who they are and what motivates them. By getting a pulse on what young consumers want, brands not only open up new markets but also keep up with the latest social media trends.

Don’t Force Your Ads on Them

There's no way around it: blatant advertising annoys Gen Z. CNBC reported that 69% of Gen Z avoid advertisements whenever possible. It is likely that they will skip engaging with the content entirely if they have to watch long ads for it, and may even avoid the brand altogether if it makes them watch ads.

Be very careful when dealing with them if you wish to keep their interest. Indeed, no one likes to be told what to do, but Gen Z has a particular dislike for it. Rather than using pushy sales tactics, involve them and get them engaged in creating awareness among their peers and loved ones.

For example, engaging them in activities they love is a great way to attract them. After all, who doesn't enjoy doing something they find rewarding?

Forget About Traditional Marketing Strategies & Channels

Now that Gen Z has smartphones, they're not tied to the TV anymore. There is no limit to what they can watch at any given time. Today's Gen Zers have access to a wide range of content at their fingertips, most of it produced by their own peers. Consequently, commercial interruptions should be shorter in order to keep pace with social media's bite-sized content consumption.

As traditional television viewing among young people continues to decline, OTT (Over-The-Top) — the term used to describe content providers who distribute streaming media direct to internet users — is becoming increasingly popular among brands trying to reach kids and teens on TV.

Professional Assistance Is Key to Success in Youth Advertising

Clearly, advertising is big business in the United States, but we can’t ignore how vulnerable young people are to its effects.

Moreover, commercial speech does not have the same protections as freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. Public health risks or non-compliance with COPPA regulations can lead to advertisement restrictions or even banning.

What's the solution? COPPA compliance and creative content production don’t have to be polar opposites when professionals are involved.

Youth advertising has never been easier or safer with Driver Studios COPPA-compliant youth advertising.

Ensure safe access to young audiences across all platforms (smartphones, tablets, streaming TV, and YouTube) on the world's largest marketplace for youth digital content. With a range of formats available across mobile, video, and web, as well as responsive microsites, we offer an all-in-one solution from ideation to execution.

By partnering with Driver Studios, you'll be able to promote your products in front of kids when they are most likely to be engaged. Getting your brand to the top is as easy as contacting us.

Image by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

A Final Word

Today's youth are always coming up with new ideas. They are the only ones with the most buying power, more than anyone else.

TrueList estimates Gen Z is nearly a quarter of the world's population and makes up to 40% of consumers in the US; advertisers would do well to avoid driving them away. Losing Gen Z’s interest could lead to a reduction in disposable income of up to 360 billion dollars.  

Brands need to understand how their target audience thinks and use each platform to create meaningful connections. Ideally, ads should both be captivating and seamlessly align with the type of content Gen Z is trying to consume.

This is where an innovative and experienced team steps in to help you.

By engaging smaller, age- and gender-specific audiences, we allow advertisers to reach the right kids at the right time, which usually results in more effective campaigns. Driver Studios maximizes your ad spend and eliminates wasted impressions by having exclusive access to Premium Inventory and continually optimizing your campaigns.

Digital advertising space in Driver Studios allows brands to reach young people in the safest and most effective way possible. With Driver Studio’s help, you can reach your target audience safely and responsibly across OTT, CTV, and YouTube, and on mobile, tablet, and desktop casual games across the world’s largest COPPA-compliant network.

Please feel free to send us an email at if you need any further assistance.