Millennials, Gen-Z Alienated by Ads in Social News Feeds (Study)

Brands looking to get the attention of millennials and Generation Z, take note: Ads in their social network news feeds are not the way to go.

Brands looking to get the attention of millennials and Generation Z, take note: Ads in their social network news feeds are not the way to go.

A new study by Harris Poll, commissioned by brand relationship manager Lithium Technologies, found that 74 percent of millennials (ages 20 through 39) and Gen-Z respondents (16 through 19) object to being targeted by brands on their social media feeds.

Even more ominous for brands: 56 percent of the nearly 2,500 respondents to the study said they have reduced social media use or eliminated it altogether due to ads in their news feeds.

Social networks also came up short among millennials, Gen-Z, Generation X and baby boomers when it came to trust for information on products and services, topping only celebrity endorsements.

For the younger generations (millennials and Gen-Z), online sites with product reviews, such as Amazon and Yelp, were the most trusted, at 85 percent, followed by:

  • Company/manufacturer websites, 66 percent
  • Communities of like-minded individuals (chart rooms, forums, user groups), 65 percent
  • People they follow online, 57 percent
  • Social networks, 53 percent
  • Celebrity endorsements, 40 percent

The order was the same for the older generations (Gen-X and baby boomers)

  • Online sites with product reviews, 66 percent
  • Company/manufacturer websites, 44 percent
  • Communities of like-minded individuals (chart rooms, forums, user groups), 44 percent
  • People they follow online, 31 percent
  • Social networks, 29 percent
  • Celebrity endorsements, 28 percent

The poll also found that 79 percent of millennials expect responses the same day when reaching out to brands online compared with 73 percent of Gen-Xers and 71 percent of baby boomers.

One of the respondents, 23-year-old recent graduate Mallory Benham, said in a release announcing the study’s results:

I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look. Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.

Lithium Technologies president and CEO Rob Tarkoff added:

Pushing out ads on social media is the surest way for brands to alienate consumers, especially the younger generations who make up more than 50 percent of the population. That’s a lot of purchasing power, and it’s only going to grow as these generations reach their prime spending years. The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.

Social implies a two-way conversation, and that means paying attention and participating. Brands that break that contract are going to lose a generation of customers.

Readers: What are your thoughts on the findings by Harris Poll for Lithium?

Lithium Harris Stop Yelling by David Cohen

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.