Gen X, Y and Z agree traditional ads are better than digital

New data suggests older and younger people share many attitudes towards advertising.

Timeline with red sign where it is written the text generation Z, illustration of millenial generations born after the year 2000.

A lot has been made about the gap between how millennials and their elders perceive advertising. However, according to new data from Kantar Millward Brown, there are more similarities than you might expect.

Having surveyed 23,000 consumers across 39 different countries, the research monitored advertising perceptions among Generation X; the baby boomers born between the early 1960s to late 1970s, Generation Y; people born in the 1980s and 1990s, Generation Z, people born 2000 onwards. And when asked which ad formats they respond best to, each generation voted in a higher proportion for traditional formats over online ad formats.

The most popular traditional format is cinema, with over half (59%) of UK consumers identified as Gen Z feeling ‘positive about it’ as an advertising channel, with Gen X (52%) and Gen Y (50%) not far behind. And even radio, the least popular traditional format on a list of six, is better perceived than desktop display, the most popular online ad format on a list of fix, among the three different generations.

Which traditional ad format do they respond best to? UK Gen Z UK Gen Y UK Gen X
Outdoor 50% 41% 43%
Cinema 59% 50% 52%
Magazines 34% 43% 40%
Newspapers 34% 35% 37%
TV 38% 43% 48%
Radio 27% 33% 32%

Only 20% of Gen Z are a fan of mobile video compared to a similar 21% of Gen Y and 17% of Gen X. And both the middle-aged and millennials share a low opinion of online search advertising, with only 25% of Gen Z and 23% of Gen Y a fan of the format. There’s also a universal disdain among British generations towards non-skippable pre-roll ads, with only 18% of Gen Z, 14% of Gen Y and 16% of Gen X open to the ad format.

READ MORE: Mark Ritson: Millennials are out; blah blahs are your next target group

For brands looking to target consumers with branded content, events could be the way forward with Gen Z (46%), Gen Y (40%) and Gen X (31%) listing it as their favoured branded ad format. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gen Z (41%) is more open to celebrity branded content than Gen Y (26%) and Gen X (25%).

Which online ad formats do they respond best to? UK Gen Z UK Gen Y UK Gen X
Desktop display 26% 23% 19%
Online search 25% 29% 23%
Mobile display 24% 22% 16%
Desktop video 22% 22% 19%
Mobile video 20% 21% 17%

Jane Ostler, managing director for media & digital at Kantar Millward Brown UK, says the figures prove Gen Z can still be impressed by traditional media and share more similarities with their elders than marketers might think.

She says: “Despite their digitally dominated media consumption, Gen Z can still be impressed by traditional media.

“While globally they spend less time with traditional (51% watch an hour or more of TV a day compared to 74% for Gen X), Gen Z is consistently more positive about ad formats such as outdoor, print ads and cinema, TV and radio ads than standard digital alternatives.”

Despite the Kantar Millward Brown data suggesting consumers favour traditional advertising, global digital advertising is expected to top TV in 2017 for the first time.

According to IPG Mediabrands‘ Magna, digital-based ad sales will become the biggest media category this year, reaching a market share of 40% and pulling in $202 billion worldwide. In comparison, linear TV ad sales will bring in $186 billion and have a 36% market share.



There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Chris Arnold 12 Jan 2017

    We recently ran a campaign for Diageo targeting students. We used a new but traditional based idea through AIWIP. They have installed printers in colleges across the country that put ads on the base of a printout – in exchange for free printing. They download a document through the AIWIP app and it connects to an AIWIP printer. Or you can pay 5p for ad free. 99% of students opt for free ads. That’s called ‘value exchange’. Research shows that students like the ads as they feel they are getting something that benefits them – free printing.

  2. Andrew Woodger 16 Jan 2017

    Interesting article, but isn’t this a classic case of “consumers saying what they believe and doing what’s convenient”. I would suggest media rankings reflect those media “enjoyed” the most by consumers and the media audiences find least intrusive. After all what’s not to like about a high production value cinematic experience! We all get irritated by “rich media” and “pop up” ads causing pages to load slowly and getting in the way of the content we are trying to access online, but digital still provides the simplest way of gaining direct response, especially in an ecommerce context. Think of it as digital POS.
    I blame greedy site owners for overloading and cluttering their pages with paid media content, that often significantly degrades the online user experience and the perception of digital advertising.

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