Cracking the Code: Gen Z Engagement through Audio Advertising

Disruptive, yet nostalgic, connected, yet increasingly isolated, Gen Z is the most digitally discerning generation yet. As they increasingly move away from the confines of doom scrolling and visual displays, the vast potential of audio platforms is now front and centre. How can brands leverage this interest?

Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in total digital immersion. Their consumer spending habits are evident to this and the research is all pointing to a single advertising truth: audio marketing is synonymous with ROI.

Skeptics just have to look at the numbers - digital audio ad channels have gone from strength to strength, growing 71% since 2021. Research from DLMDD and YouGov shows just how intrinsically linked emotional resonance is to consumer spending for digital natives such as Gen Z - 20% of young adults are more likely to spend with a brand that has a sonic identity; one out of five under 35’s are more inclined to actually choose or buy a product from a brand with a sonic identity; and, one in three young adults feel more positive towards brands with a sonic identity. 

With this in mind, brands have a huge opportunity to address industry issues such as ad fatigue, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. As younger consumers increasingly seek immersive experiences, sound media platforms provide a unique opportunity for brands to captivate attention and create memorable connections. These platforms possess the ability to transcend temporal and geographic barriers, opening up new avenues for advertising that allow brands to stand out in an increasingly crowded digital landscape. 

Due to their innate familiarity with audio media consumption, sound now plays a pivotal role in Generation Z's perception of branding. Forward-thinking brands are taking proactive measures to sow the seeds of long-term growth by recognising the imperative of integrating sound as a fundamental element in their overall strategy going forward.

Cue the music 

Born in a post-internet world, Generation Z has emerged as a remarkably mobile audience - smart phones are the most utilised device among this generation, with approximately 5.2 hours dedicated to them each day.

56% of Gen Z and millennials agree that audio is an escape from too much visual stimulation.

Particularly relevant to the mobile advertising conversation, Zs stream music in huge numbers and for reasons that move beyond purely entertainment value. The role of music is integral in helping this generation in their digitally saturated and once socially distanced lives. Data shows they deliberately choose which media to consume based on their desired mood - whether it be to align with or alter their emotional state. A staggering 79% even go as far as to say it plays a crucial role in ‘keeping them sane.’

This presents immense opportunities for digital marketers to effectively communicate to younger consumers through contextually relevant means. Zs have affinity for personalised experiences and content that aligns with their individual tastes and preferences, and with music advertising, advertisers can tailor their messages to specific genres, artists, or even curated playlists that resonate with the target audience. 

Plugging into Gen Z’s podcast passion

Citing reasons pertaining to trust, transparency and emotional wellbeing, Gen Z is podcast crazy for a myriad of reasons. In Spotify’s Culture Next Report, 50% of Gen Z stated a higher amount of trust in podcasts in comparison to traditional media sources such as TV news, radio, and newspapers. 

The realm of podcasting has also given rise to its own roster of celebrity hosts, while passionate fans actively foster communities around them. This interactivity goes beyond serving as a means for creators to effectively connect with their audiences; it fundamentally alters the way listeners engage with the content they consume, forging deeper and more meaningful relationships.

63% of Gen Z consider podcasts a mental health resource.

Advertisers can build upon this momentum - if Gen Z appreciates authenticity and storytelling, there is a chance to create engaging and compelling narratives within podcast advertisements that resonate with the values and interests of Gen Z, rather than relying solely on traditional commercial-style messaging. Podcasts provide an opportunity to blend entertainment and education, enabling advertisers to deliver valuable content that resonates with Z's desire for both information and enjoyment.

Combatting ad fatigue 

The two most dreaded words within ad tech vernacular: ad fatigue. With 49% of Gen Z saying they utilise ad blockers because there are too many ads that do not resonate with their culture or values, this fatigue could prove to be fatal to marketing activities. 

Audio marketing’s non-intrusive format, as well as its ability to hold authentic and relevant messaging, is a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against ad fatigue. 

Throughout the history of radio and audio content in general, advertisements have been widely accepted as a natural part of the listening experience, meaning that they are not generally seen as overly disruptive or bothersome. Additionally, audio does not disrupt a user's visual experience or require their active attention - it seamlessly integrates into the background, allowing users to continue their activities or consume content without interruption while still absorbing the brand message As a result, it is commonplace for audio ad campaigns to achieve remarkably high listen-through rates (LTRs), sitting in the range of 90%+.

Not bad for a generation that is said to have a one-second attention span for ads.