There's no shortage of research that shows that young people are not watching as much TV (see here, here, here or here, or any of the other hundreds of recent studies that come up with a simple Google search).
Younger audiences live on their phones now, a format where video consumption is exploding. A 2016 Cisco study forecasted that three-quarters of mobile data will be from video by 2020. Mark Zuckerberg himself has said that within five years Facebook will be mostly a video company.
So it isn't hard to read the tea leaves and see that mobile video ads are soon going to replace the TV spot as the premium visual advertising format. But what isn't being given as much attention, is that in-feed native ads, fitting within the dominant design paradigm of the mobile internet, with an experience younger consumers like and results that far outstrip any other ad format, are far and away the most practical and impactful ads for this new medium.
Here are five charts from our recent Gen Z and Millennial behavior studies that back up our belief in the power of native video in reaching younger consumers.
Younger audiences are watching more video on their mobile phones than any other device
There is a consensus among all market researchers that young audiences are watching less and less TV than ever before (the only group watching more TV than five years ago are people 65 years and over). A 2016 Sharethrough study of Gen Z consumers (18-21 years old) found that while 52 percent of them watched TV each day, a whopping 71 percent watched video on a mobile device daily. Younger audiences live on mobile now and native advertising is the only ad format that respects the mobile experience.
This video consumption is driven by time spent on social platforms
Social platforms have been the driving force behind the mobile video watching habits of younger consumers. More than half of Gen Z consumers Sharethrough surveyed said that they watched video daily on Facebook, YouTube or Snapchat. With the exception of YouTube, none of these major social platforms has employed a traditional, interruptive advertising model, opting instead for native ads. It's reorienting expectations among younger consumers of what a good advertising experience is.
The popularity of these platforms is making feeds the dominant consumption experience
The popularity of the new social platforms among younger consumers has also reoriented how they prefer to discover information: 91 percent of Millennials Sharethrough surveyed in late 2015 discovered new content in-feed. Influenced largely by these new platforms, the feed design has become the dominant design paradigm of both the mobile and desktop Internet. It's creating a new generation of captivated consumers, scrolling through the infinite confine of the feed, and within that, native ads are the only units that are practical.
Always accompanied by their phones, younger audiences are watching video throughout the whole day
Reaching someone with a TV ad requires them to be at home and watching the television. For younger consumers - who aren't tuning in as much to begin with - the popularity of mobile video has made them constantly reachable throughout the day. They're still watching the most at home (as shown above), but large numbers are still tuning in while at school or at work, or commuting. Native video has been shown to have tremendously high impact - Facebook research has shown it can change audience preferences within just 7 seconds - and it can deployed effectively at any time of the day.
Younger audiences prefer the silent autoplay experience
It's not just that native video closely fits the viewing and browsing behaviors of young consumers and allows advertisers to reach them any time of day with high impact ads. Younger consumers actually like the audience experience of native video, auto-playing silently in the feed with a headline. More than three-quarters of Gen Z consumers Sharethrough surveyed liked being able to preview a video silently in feed and two-thirds enjoyed being able to watch a video silently while reading a headline and description.