Are You Connecting Digitally With Gen Z Shoppers?

Unimpressed with yesterday’s advertising, younger audiences seek deeper engagement

When deciding what to buy, Gen Z is looking for something more than a traditional ad.

They want to be inspired across the entire funnel, with seamless shopping experiences that feel relevant and personal. And they expect brands to make an effort to entertain and engage them. In turn, brands need to pinpoint their customers with omnichannel commerce opportunities throughout their journey, delivering value and utility in the exact moment their audiences are in a shopping mindset. They should integrate advertising into experiences that are natural and sought after.

And getting it right pays off. While Gen Z still loves shopping in stores, Gen Z and millennials have increased their online spending by 33% since the pandemic and engage heavily with online ads. According to Verizon Media’s Omnibus Consumer Study, 61% of younger shoppers say that online ads help give them new ideas for items to buy later, while 42% have clicked on a sponsored ad—a higher percentage of clicks than any other generation. About one in four Gen Z shoppers we surveyed in the U.S. said that online advertising—including image, text and video ads—has become more influential in their purchasing decisions over the last two years.

So, what’s the best way to get Gen Z shoppers’ attention?

Short, interactive shoppable videos

Unlike traditional advertisements that only offer passive viewing, shoppable videos let customers take action and buy directly from the content. Together with brands like In The Know, which connects with 24 million users and creates 450 videos/week, extend your reach and meet viewers where they’re at through more meaningful interactions. We have even more shoppable video series rolling out later this year including You Need This, Spending Power, and Shop Small.

Creative branded content

Stand out by pairing advertising with engaging content. More than half (54%) of shoppers say they like it when a brand is integrated within an editorial piece they’re reading, according to the Omnibus Consumer Study. Work with a talented production team to develop quality content on quality sites, which will spur product discovery and transactions through branded content, affiliate articles and immersive experiences.

Immersive ads

Not only do some formats make it possible to capture the touch and feel of real products in the virtual world, but they can also go a step beyond. Extended reality (XR)—such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and 3D tech—enables consumers to try before they buy, bringing a new level of interactivity to online shopping. Plus, according to Verizon Media’s Immersive Formats Study, 63% of younger consumers say that they’re more inclined to purchase from brands that create content with innovative ads.

Deals and savings

Per the Omnibus Consumer Study, a surprisingly high proportion (41%) of Gen Z and millennials report hunting for deals and coupons.Consumers say that this year they will rely on convenient shopping options and more budget-friendly items, meaning that it’s important to offer compelling incentives to buy. Native ads can offer greater incentives to purchase and resurface products that users have browsed, nudging shoppers to take the next step toward purchase.

Personalization and discovery

Shoppers today miss that sense of discovery that comes from finding something new just for them—and that’s where tech can play a major role. More than two-thirds (68%) of shoppers say they pay more attention to ads that are relevant to them, according to the Omnibus Consumer Study. Dynamic product ads (DPA) create intuitive shopping experiences that are built for creativity, yet mindful of a user’s specific interest. DPA dynamically pull creative from a brand’s product feed and serve it according to each user’s unique online shopping behavior.

Interest-based shopping

Nearly two out of three (64%) younger shoppers say they pay attention to brands and products tailored to their interests, reports the Omnibus Consumer Study.  With the launch of Yahoo Shops marketplace this fall, users will be able to discover and purchase products through a user-unique digital mall, featuring only brands that reflect areas of passion and interest.

Commerce email integrations

When it comes to email, don’t underestimate the power of personalization. The majority of marketers who target Gen Z focus on social, meaning that Gen Z inboxes—which 58% report to check multiple times a day—actually have less competition than their millennial or Gen X counterparts. Invest in personalized email technologies such as AMP, deal ads and grocery integrations to enable highly dynamic, personalized and actionable content for users.

According to shoppers who participated in a consumer study with Verizon Media, one of the best ways online retailers can create a more delightful shopping experience is to “Offer more meal ideas on the website/app.”An example of this is Verizon Media’s grocery integration with Yahoo Mail, in which customers can create shopping lists directly in Yahoo Mail and discover recipe suggestions based on their purchases.

By surfacing relevant, interactive content to customers while they’re in a shopping mindset, Verizon Media helps brands form relationships with nearly 900 million users and 240 million connected IDs. Our partnerships are proprietary—not social, or third-party—and built to succeed in a cookieless future.

Find the right partner

Through our vast ecosystem, Verizon Media reaches 90% of shoppers between the ages of 18 and 34. In our young and influential thought leadership we share more tips for meeting next-gen audience’s authentic and real daily needs. You can engage Gen Z and millennials across the purchase path with premium content in immersive formats—all powered by unparalleled technology and data. Our end-to-end commerce experiences reach customers at just the right moments, positioning your brand to thrive in the world of post-pandemic shopping.

Andrea Wasserman is the first head of global commerce for Verizon Media Group, where she leads a team of product managers, engineers, designers, marketers, strategists and operators. Her team is growing commerce revenue across Yahoo Mail, Yahoo search, and content commerce (across trusted brands such as Yahoo, TechCrunch and Engadget).