Discover what our newest survey reveals about mobile creative, Millennials and Gen Z.
Two years ago, my work in mobile marketing dovetailed with research into two fast-growing consumer demographics: millennials and Gen Z. Together, they will command an estimated combined spending power of nearly $350 billion between now and 2020.
It was clear then and remains clear today that we need to know, respect and embrace these mobile prodigies, a term I coined in my initial writing about the grouping. They are young digital natives, some of whom have never known a world without smartphones and tablets. Every marketer and brand must meet them where they work, live and play. Our digital landscape is theirs to shape, and they will shape it with their behaviors, preferences and expectations.
And so, my study of mobile prodigies continues. In the following sections, you’ll discover what a new survey tells us about mobile creative, millennials and Gen Z in 2018.
Ad Experiences: What Mobile Prodigies Expect (And Demand)
We commissioned YPulse, a millennial and Gen Z research organization, to poll 1,000 millennial and Gen Z consumers this past February, and our new survey shows that 88% of the respondents want mobile creative that reflects their activities, locations and/or tastes. They expect all of these factors to be in play, in some cases. But some of them tagged one element or a combination of several but not all of them. Among the 88% highlighted, the most important factors break out as follows:
- The mobile ad must provide an offer that these young consumers can act on now or save for later. Twenty-eight percent identified this element as critical, with 18- to 24-year-olds representing the majority that expects this flexible functionality.
- Twenty percent wanted the mobile ad to anticipate their next great discovery. The mobile creative should surprise mobile prodigies by opening their eyes to new experiences, products and ideas, and engagements should be contextually aligned with their established activities, locations and tastes.
- Nineteen percent said that mobile ads simply need to reflect their activities, locations and/or tastes. They didn’t specify more about how and when this needs to happen.
- Eleven percent said the ad simply needs to be personalized to what data tells brands about established activities. In other words, the creative doesn’t need to represent both activities and locations/tastes.
- Ten percent said mobile creative only needs to reflect their location.
Through the lens of these expectations, we see the sophistication of mobile prodigies. Fully conversant with the digital space and accustomed to dynamic user experiences, for them mobile creative must be relevant and flexible. For example, they’re interested in interacting if they can shift the time of engagement to a framework that matches their lifestyle and needs.
In at least one sense, this helps define the mobile experience as mobile prodigies see it. Mobile creative must be theirs to control, and brands that earn their spend will develop mobile moments that give them this sense of digital self-determination. To summarize the above findings, brands should develop creative experiences that consumers can act on and save for later, and that inspire new discoveries rather than just dovetail with established preferences. And these creative experiences should always draw on permissions-granted data to contextualize, align and reflect where mobile prodigies are, what they’ve done in the recent past and how they’ve chosen — and purchased — based on the mobile creative that engaged them in the past.
Deeper Dive: Mobile Prodigies And The Active Consumer Mindset
Some 96 out of 1,000 respondents — about 10% of them — offered further thoughts on mobile ads, going beyond the basic answer options offered in the survey. In particular, a subset numbering 36 respondents spoke specifically about what causes them to stop and interact with mobile creative.
Some answers focused on practical factors: 42% of the subset said that mobile creative should never interrupt the content they are trying to consume, it should always appear within the apps they already like to use, or it should always offer a discount as part of the experience.
In other cases, the subset’s responses had more to do with a conceptual approach: 39% said that mobile creative wins their attention when it is fun and reflective of their established wants and needs, and/or the ad should challenge them to do something active. It was crucial to one respondent that “the advertiser expresses the gains from both parties. I need to be challenged to do something, whether or not I purchase or subscribe to the product.”
This is such an interesting statement for brands and marketers to consider. Its first part implies two key questions: What does the consumer get out of this engagement? and What is the advertiser looking to get out of this engagement? It ties those two questions in to an equation of transparency as well. Mobile prodigies want to know what they’re getting and what they’re giving in return. Taco Bell is a strong example of this approach: The brand’s Doodle Wars challenges its Snapchat audience (mainly millennials, in this instance) to draw and share their own creativity, and Taco Bell shares its favorite submissions. The pictures submitted stick around rather than vanishing in the usual Snapchat way.
The second part of the feedback tells us that once we’re past the threshold of transparency, the mobile creative must also have meaning and purpose in and of itself. What our respondent is really telling marketers and brands is that they aren’t interested in passive digital that only tries to sell a product. Of course, conversions are key to positive campaign outcomes, but mobile prodigies’ proclivity to interact and potentially convert is only possible if the ad prompts an active experience that means something.
Creative directors must take note, and we can all take note: Mobile prodigies are telling us what works when it comes to mobile ads, and they’re willing to exchange information and data — even in a survey — if they can get a better digital ecosystem in return. We must build the experiences for which they’re asking.
This article first appeared at Forbes.
Julie Bernard is Chief Marketing Officer at Verve.
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