Gen Z & Y attitudes to advertising

20/05/2019 By Piers Lee

BVA BDRC recently partnered with the School of Management & Communication at the Republic Polytechnic in Singapore to undertake extensive research to assess the media habits & preferences of Gen Z & Y consumers. From November 2018 to January 2019, we undertook five focus groups (with a diary survey) and 346 quantitative surveys, to assess viewing habits, devices used, the role of TV today, genre preferences, attitudes to advertising, and video gaming behaviour.  We report some of the key findings in our “Talking to Generations” Series…

Part 4: Gen Z & Y attitudes to advertising

Consumers want free content, and exposure to advertising is the price they need to pay to get it. Many viewers do seek advertising-free content (such as subscription services like Netflix and HBO) and others install ad blockers, but most will be bombarded by advertising through their increasing consumption of media.

Recent research conducted by BVA BDRC with the Republic Polytechnic on media consumption addressed a range of issues related to advertising.

Thanks to an increase in streaming media, advertising is changing from the traditional 20 or 30 second TV commercial to shorter videos that consumers can choose to skip after a few seconds. This impacts how consumers deal with commercials. The traditional TV commercial, where the consumer has no option to skip, might result in the consumer switching to a task that shifts their attention somewhere else, such as checking their mobile or getting a refreshment.

On the other hand, when a commercial appears on a mobile the viewer generally has the option to skip it after five seconds, and most do. However, our research found that some consumers will give commercials a ‘five second test’ – they will look and listen, and if these five seconds are good enough to hold their attention, they will ‘reward’ the advertiser and watch the whole advert.

Some consumers also recognise that many adverts are becoming ‘good productions’ in themselves. Indeed, with so much investment made in media buying, advertisers are now budgeting for higher quality productions and to attract the best producers and creative agencies.

Ultimately, advertisers need to pull similar levers to media content producers. As we found in our research into general media content preferences, advertising content needs to have a good story and, above all, to be relatable.

We also examined some ‘alternative’ methods to traditional advertising.

One of these, product placement, is becoming more common in films and dramas. People are becoming more aware of product placement as a general practice, and this tends to raise awareness of the products being placed in films and dramas. It can even become a bit of a game for viewers watching content in a group, actively ‘looking out’ for products that have been conspicuously (or not so conspicuously) placed in a film or drama. Clearly, this makes the brand and product more memorable, and similarly to irritating adverts they actually gain higher recall by virtue of their irritation.

Many consumers actively look for advert-free content and are willing to pay for it, but the question is whether producers can guarantee productions free of branded product placements. This is almost impossible to deliver in any modern day drama or TV series – one of the most commonly (yet unintentionally) placed branded products are Apple laptops. They seem to be used more than any other laptop brands in films!

Although product placement will continue, brands will always find new ways to make themselves known through media. One method is for brands to actually create content for themselves. An example would be developing an advertorial into a full blown documentary. Documentaries that feature the story of brands – or ‘getting inside brands’ – can be popular content in their own right. The story of Ikea (‘Flatpack Empire’), or the TV series ‘Megafactories’ (which explores inside the factories of well-known brands) makes for great brand building in its own right. Content like this showcases all of a brand’s products, holds the viewers’ attention for at least thirty minutes, and takes away all the annoyances associated with product placement.

Download the full 'Talking to Generations' Series

For more information on this study, contact:

Piers Lee (Managing Director of BVA BDRC Asia)