In anticipation of Ad:tech New York November 5-7, we spoke with Jane Gould, SVP of MTV Insights, to discuss how MTV is attracting and holding the attention tech-savvy Gen Z’ers.
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Ad Council: People are still talking about millennials but for MTV, it’s all about Gen Z. What do you call the current generation of teenagers and what distinguishes them from past generations?
Jane Gould: Teens today are parented by Gen Xers and subsequently tend to operate with a healthy dose of skepticism and pragmatism. Unlike Millennials who were parented by Boomers and had a more “world is my oyster” view at this age, this generation is more “you have to create your own oyster” where they’re more cognizant of the challenges ahead and already thinking about more practical careers.
AC: What does TV look like for this generation? What role do you see MTV playing in this new cord-cutting landscape?
JG: For this generation, TV looks like good content being watched at any time and on any screen of any size.
AC: Are you seeing any backlash from Gen Z against all this technology and information overload?
JG: Teens today (the youngest of which we consider the leading edge of Gen Z) are very adept at managing all of the incoming information, messages and content that comes their way. However, they are also very critical about how reliant on technology their generation is. We hear them often say how annoyed they are by how “addicted” they are to social media and how much they hate the “drama” that exists there. At times, we see them taking short breaks from social media to engage in maker activities–e.g. knitting, crafting. On the entertainment front, teens even consider “taking a break from technology” to be immersing themselves in a show for binge viewing without social media.
AC: With ad blocking taking off, DVRs, etc. what are the best ways to reach teens today with your marketing message?
JG: Teens today are very savvy when it comes to marketing messages and easily weed out any advertiser that they deem inauthentic. They look for smart and funny interaction with brands whether through traditional advertisements, social media or even a virtual or real-world special experience.
AC: What social causes are being embraced by this generation of teens and why?
JG: The post-Millennial generation is very attuned to causes and messaging around equality–gender, racial, sexuality–and are conscious about what’s going on around the world. In fact, when given a hypothetical $100 to donate globally, nationally or locally, a 2014 MTV research study found young people donated more than twice as much to global causes on average as Boomers. They are also quick to hop on a topical cause that’s trending in social feeds–e.g. Ice Bucket Challenge–that they can easily participate in.