Want to Reach Gen Z? Make Sure Your Ads Are Legit Good

Connecting with audiences requires an always-on, content-driven conversation

The effectiveness of your ad matters. And what’s the best way to boost effectiveness? Well unsurprisingly, it’s the same as it’s always been: Make good ads.

Except now, in the age of social media and streaming, your creative needs to be tailored to the platform and be able to transcend the platform. It needs to generate a conversation through content.

It’s the same principle described by Pepsi CMO Todd Kaplan recently, during Adweek’s Social Media Week. “You need to be making content, not ads,” said Kaplan. “It’s about bringing consumers to you and inviting them into the conversation rather than chasing them.”

The preferences of the most connected demographic—Gen Z—are the clearest indication of the importance of creative. In marketing, the members of Gen Z are known as difficult to reach and hard to understand. And it’s true; Gen Z audiences are different.

What Gen Z wants

According to YPulse, only about a third of Gen Z remember a time before social media compared to 50% of millennials. And, between the addition of social media and streaming TV, there’s never been more content. Yet, in Paramount’s Gen Z study, “Command Z,” we found that only 16% of Gen Zers say that they’re overwhelmed by how much information there is to take in.

Gen Z audiences expect brands to express their identities in unexpected spaces and they care more about the quality of content than the creator. They don’t care if a piece of content they’ve seen or read comes from a brand.

In fact, from our “Command Z” study, 40% of Gen Z audiences say they would like their favorite brands to create more content, compared to just 29% of millennials.

Be nimble, strategic and creative

In short, brands need a unique content approach to reach Gen Z, just as they need to tailor their creative to match any specific audience. Which circles back to the point, that now, as much as ever, creativity is a measure of ad effectiveness. Strong creative requires flexibility, but when done right it will cut through the clutter.

This is why Paramount Advertising recently launched Creative+, a newly-organized division designed to address all the creative needs of clients by connecting them to the wide range of creative solutions across our portfolio. This capability is designed with flexibility in mind, and builds on Paramount’s existing areas of expertise, enabling brands to work with Creative+ as a one-stop shop.

While Paramount Advertising is known for its brand integrations, it also has a robust influencer and social business. That capability was driven by the 2018 acquisition of WHOSAY, the original influence marketing company. Paramount Advertising has helped to define the influencer model, which can hide a lot of costs from clients. With Creative + and its full cost transparency approach, Paramount is now undoing that model and handing the savings back to clients. With Creative+, clients can work with the division as a creative partner for all their needs. And that’s what Paramount aims to be with creative—a partner, not a vendor.

Paramount Advertising will continue to optimize its organization and engineer new products to better serve clients. They rightly demand what Gen Z demands of the advertising industry: to be more nimble, be more strategic and be more creative.

Steve Ellis is the EVP of ad sales strategy and business development at Paramount Global. He was previously the founder and CEO of WHOSAY, the largest and most trusted influence marketer in the world, which Viacom acquired in 2018.