Advertising is far from its Don Draper days.
While 20th-century advertising still targeted basic demographics like someone’s location and general interests, today’s ads can be targeted towards a much more detailed profile of an individual’s traits through stored online user data such as ‘likes’, posts, purchases and browsing history.
Increasingly though the term “targeted ad” spells distrust. Netflix’s 2020 popular documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ revealed just how much social media companies manipulate human psychology to increase app usage and trigger actions within them.
What Gen Z think about targeted ads
But what does the generation who grew up online think about it?
As part of our What Gen Z Actually Do Online report we surveyed over 1000 young people aged 15 to 24 about their relationship with social media and discovered that 59% of Gen Zs actually like targeted ads, which means it’s more popular with them than not. We also found 54% of Gen Zs have also bought something from a social media ad.
As a 16-year-old female from Victoria said, “As much as people hate them, targeted advertising works! I have a lot that I’ve bought and have on my wish list from targeted Facebook and Instagram ads.”
Similarly a 15-year-old from Queensland said, “An ad on my Instagram feed for products like earrings will entice me despite the fact that I know it is an ad. Honestly, pretty pictures do the trick.”
Some Gen Zs are rightfully skeptical though. An 18-year-old female from Tasmania said, “I feel that the way I am targeted by ads on social media invades my privacy and security and concerns me.”
To alay such skepticism a 17-year-old male from NSW said social media companies should “Make it an option by asking the consumer first and list the benefits of having targeted advertising on.”
Earlier this year Apple released a new device feature that allows their users to stop their data from being collected by apps. Facebook argued that this would be a problem as sharing data with advertisers gives users a better experience. In other words, highly targeted ads that are more relevant. And that seems to be the case for those 59% of Gen Zs who like them.
As a 17-year-old female from Queensland said about how brands can best connect with Gen Zs online, “More targeted ads so we don’t waste our time reading/watching useless advertisements.”
Just don’t make it “too targeted”, some said. It’s creepy.