Influx Digital

How Generation Z Digest Online Media

Whether you like it or not, if you are reading this article there is a strong chance that you are either a Millennial or Generation Z. That’s not to say you couldn’t be older (you might even be a silver surfer), but in all seriousness, it is these two generations that now dominate the internet.

Whether you like it or not, if you are reading this article there is a strong chance that you are either a Millennial or Generation Z. That’s not to say you couldn’t be older (you might even be a silver surfer), but in all seriousness, it is these two generations that now dominate the internet. A Millennial is considered to be someone whose age range is currently 20–33, whereas to qualify as Generation Z you fall into the 14–19 age group. Why does this even matter? I hear you asking. Because research indicates that there are big differences in the way these two groups consume online media.

In this article, I’m going to focus my attention on Generation Z and look at what we’ve learned to date about their specific consumption habits.

1. Staying Social

It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago that the sagely scholars were predicting an end of the social media obsession that the millennials were completely gripped by. Surely, they said, the next generation will get bored of this virtual life and give it up for something different…Facebook has passed its prime, they’d mutter, Twitter has had its day…

They couldn’t have been more wrong. Latest statistics indicate that Generation Z is hungrier than ever when it comes to social media and are spending record amounts of time online. Whilst the average adult now spends around 2 hours online a day, for Generation Z this jumps to an incredible 2 hrs 40 minutes. At least 30% of that time — or 1 minute in every 3 — is believed to be spent on social media.

Whilst the average number of social media accounts held by millennials was 3, for Generation Z this jumps to 8. Hardly a surprise then that they are spending so much longer on social media!

2. Selective Sharing

For millennials, it seems that more important than what you shared or who you shared with was that you were seen to be sharing. You were a nobody by their standards if you did not make sure you were broadcasting yourself to the world.

Interestingly, despite their increased presence on social media, Generation Z seem to have displayed a tendency for much more selective sharing. Rather than putting anything and everything on their public Facebook profile, they are preferring platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram where they can share specific stories with specific people. This trend seems to be driven by a need to connect with others sharing a common passion or cause. This in itself is highly interesting, as it means that marketers will have to appeal to this sense of identity in order to gain traction for their brand. Digital marketers who want to reach Generation Z need to identify the niche, get personal and speak their audience’s language.

3. Image Matters

It would seem that the old saying ‘A picture tells a thousand words’ has never been truer. It seems that Generation Z want to express themselves in images rather than words — as seen by the tremendous growth of Instagram which is largely attributed to this age group. It is estimated that approximately 60% of Generation Z now use Instagram at least once daily. Snapchat is also seeing a similar level of popularity.

For brands, it is essential to have a presence on these photo sharing sites, perhaps even more so than on the traditional social media channels.

4. Lights, Camera, Action!

If there is one thing above all else that defines Generation Z it is this — video. Over 90% of people in this age group regularly watch video clips or use video sharing websites — substantially higher than any other entertainment category. Youtube is the dominant force as far as free video is concerned, with 85% of GenZ using the platform. Free online video, excluding social media, now accounts for 6.2 hours per week. If this is added to video viewed on social media, the figure jumps to 12.1 hours per week.

As if that wasn’t enough, paid for video content is equally popular, with Netflix the leader by far, being viewed by an estimated ⅔ of GenZ. Unsurprisingly, they also watch considerably less traditional TV than their Millennial counterparts.

It’s not just entertainment that matters though. Although the top reasons for watching online video are to kill boredom and stay up to date with favourite shows or personalities, there are many other reasons too. Stress relief and winding down is a big motivator, as is spending time with others. Perhaps most interesting is that nearly 50% of GenZ reported that they watched video in order to learn something.

Clearly, there are some big insights here for digital marketers who wish to use video. That said, less positive from a marketing perspective is that 44% of Generation Z watch online video simply to go to sleep!

5. Ad-versity

If there is one thing that Generation Z really do not like (apart from sunlight, possibly) it would appear to be ads. Although ads have historically been negatively received, the general viewpoint of this generation is of particular interest. A majority of this user group feel that ads are unwanted interruptions that actually get in the way of what they were doing — be it learning or simply killing boredom. Ad blocking software is used by 52% of users in this age group.

Ironically, the same age group seem to see television adverts in quite the opposite light — welcome breaks that facilitate essential needs such as bathroom breaks or of course checking in on social media. The difference would appear to lie in the on-demand nature of online video.

There is some good news for marketers though — not all adverts are facing the same levels of hatred. The key is not to interrupt whatever ‘need’ is behind the viewing. 5 second intro or end screen promotions for brands seem to receive a positive response, as do most forms of celebrity marketing, from blatant product placement and sponsoring to actual product demonstrations. Generation Z identify heavily with celebrity and seem to see this as an endorsement of the product or brand from someone they identify with.

6. Set me free

Whilst a lot of the millennials successfully navigated the switch from mobile phones to smartphones, Generation Z were literally born with smartphones in their hands. The result of this is that they have a strong tendency to consume content on their smartphone rather than on any other device. It is no surprise then that smartphones have now overtaken computers as the leading device for viewing websites worldwide.

Even when they are at home, Generation Z still prefer to keep their eyes glued to their smartphone. Interestingly, when asked why they still had a TV subscription, most households responded that they kept it because of the internet package.


With the ever changing landscape that is reaching, understanding and advertising to these new audiences, Influx Digital stay ahead of the curve with advertising and marketing for brands online from the native to the disruptive.

To find out more how we can help you, contact the team today.