With the ever-growing presence of technology in our daily lives, companies are starting to use technology to their advantage to gather consumer data and advertise to consumers.
With the rise of social media and smartphone usage, users have provided a large amount of information about themselves that companies can use for targeted advertising.
From age, gender, hobbies, interests, where you live, what products you purchase, what foods you like, and who you associate with, all of this information is gathered and used for targeting ads.
Companies collect this information by using very sophisticated computer systems that gather user data. These systems are called data brokers and they sell advertising space based on targeted audiences.
Gen Zers are being targeted with very specific advertising due to the high amount of digital footprint they leave behind. From tracking their social media accounts, researching what apps they use and how often they use them, and tracking their online shopping habits, all of this information is used to target them with ads.
In addition to knowing what is being targeted, who is targeted is an important part of advertising. Companies use a few main strategies to determine who gets their ads.
They can target people based on location, which is very important for businesses that serve customers in-person. They can also target people based on online services they use, like which apps they have on their phone.
Companies can also target people based on demographics like gender and age, as well as socioeconomic factors like income level and education. Advertisers may even combine these to target very specific groups of people.
For example, a luxury car company may want to target high income individuals with a college education. They would likely pay for ad space on an app that reaches just that group of people.
Gen Zs are in the process of establishing their life goals and aspirations, so companies that advertise to them need to be clear about what they offer and how they help you achieve your goals.
Targeting is how you are categorized or defined based on your online and/or in-person behaviors. This can include your gender, race, age, interests, and more.
Advertisers use targeting to showcase their products or services to people most likely to buy them. For example, if you are a twenty-year-old female who lives in New York and likes skiing, an advertiser may serve their ad to you for a new pair of ski boots.
With Generation Z (those born in the early 2000s), advertisers have found it difficult to target this group due to their lack of credit cards and unwillingness to share personal information online. This makes it difficult to put them into targeted groups.
Because of this, Generation Z ads tend to be more universal rather than targeting specific groups within this demographic.
As discussed earlier in the article, privacy is a major concern for Gen Z. They are very aware of the fact that their data is being collected and used to target them with advertisements.
However, this does not mean that they do not care about privacy. In fact, most Gen Zers are very concerned about their online privacy and are proactive about protecting themselves.
Many are very knowledgeable about the tools and settings necessary to protect their privacy and anonymity. For example, they know how to use private search engines like DuckDuckGo instead of Google, how to avoid using cell phone tracking services, and how to set up encrypted emails.
As Gen Z enters their teens and early twenties, marketers will have a large demographic to aim advertisements at. This will also be the time when Gen Zers have the most spending power.
With the growing concern over privacy and being targeted, however, this may change how advertisements are done. It has already led to the creation of ad blockers, which has severely limited the income some websites receive.
We see some companies trying to make ads more relevant and personalized, like what Amazon does with their product recommendations. This seems to be well-received by viewers as it seems more like a genuine ad than a total sales pitch.
We hope that as Gen Z enters into their prime spending years that they continue to raise awareness about privacy and advertising and help shift the culture away from being totally targeted by ads.
So far, Gen Z has not shown much interest in blocking ads. In fact, they have proven to be effective at influencing their spending habits.
A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that young people are highly susceptible to alcohol advertising. This is due to the fact that they are still developing their sense of right and wrong and their perception of reality is not fully developed.
Alcohol companies spend a lot of money on ads and marketing because they find it effective. Since most Gen Zers use social media almost every day, there is plenty of exposure to ads. Even if they do not care about the products being advertised, their friends may take notice and make a purchase.
Despite all of this evidence showing that ads are effective with Gen Z, there is always the possibility that things will change. The world constantly shifts and what is effective marketing today may not be tomorrow.
Targeted ads are here to stay, and there is no option to completely eliminate them. As with all things technology, it is up to you to determine how much you let them influence your life.
As previously mentioned, blocking ad blockers will not work in the long-run. Companies will just develop more advanced algorithms that can still track your data.
Using privacy settings and making account changes is a good start, but most of these don’t actually disable targeted ads. They only make it more difficult for companies to collect your data, but they still do so.
The best way to protect yourself from targeted ads is by shifting your mindset. Instead of thinking about how companies are tracking you, think about how you can use targeted ads for your benefit. For example, if you are looking for a new job, turn off the ad blockers and see if the ads relate to any of the jobs you’re interested in.
In this digital age, your data is probably the most important aspect of social media. Without it, platforms would have no reason to exist!
Since social media platforms make money off of advertising, your data is very valuable. Advertisers pay big money for targeted ads due to the high level of specificity they can achieve with social media data.
Gen Z users are beginning to recognize this and are changing their privacy settings and deleting apps in large numbers due to concerns over their privacy.
A recent study found that more than half (53%) of Gen Zers believe that advertisers would use personal information in ways that were not intended, and almost half (46%) said they had changed their behavior because of something they saw in an ad.
This shows that despite all the advertising awareness campaigns out there, young people are still being aware of how much their personal information matters.
Companies such as Sephora, Nike, Adidas, Hollister, and Urban Outfitters are some of the top brands that Gen Zers look to for products and apparel. These brands create products and advertising that capture the attention of Gen Zers.
Sephora creates beautiful ad campaigns with influencers that Gen Zers love to watch and viralize. The beauty videos create an urge to shop for new makeup which leads to sales.
Nike creates sportswear that is in high demand among teens. They run sales often which generate more purchases from customers. Adidas also runs frequent sales which get more buyers coming back.
Urban Outfitters is a store where many Gen Zers like to shop, thus generating more revenue for the company. Hollister is a casual-wear store that sells out quickly due to high demand from Gen Zers.