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3rd Row

Research reveals Gen Z avoids ads at all costs

Any company looking to target Gen Z consumers (those born between 1997 and 2012) shouldn’t even bother with traditional advertising.

That’s the stark finding from a new report released by digital consumer research firm Bulbshare, which gathers insights from thousands of consumers around the world.

Titled Ad blockers and advocacy: Why Gen Z is blocking paid ads in favour of real voices, the report finds that 99% of consumers in this generational cohort will hit “skip” on an ad if it’s an option and that nearly two-thirds (63%) use ad blockers to avoid online adverts.

Their readiness to do so comes largely from the fact that they feel overwhelmed by the number of adverts they see daily. The report shows that nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers feel bombarded with ads. The same percentage feel irritated with adverts and the incursions they place on their time. One in four, meanwhile, find advertising extremely intrusive, while one in two believe it is somewhat disruptive.

“The best advertising has always been disruptive,” says Bulbshare founder and CEO Matt Hay. “It should be difficult to ignore. But today’s brands face the very real danger of being part of an indistinct but annoying wall of noise”.

Over the past decade or so, brands have increasingly supplemented their traditional advertising efforts with influencer marketing. But customers are becoming more distrustful of the relationships between big brands and high-profile figures.

Bulbshare’s research shows that 84% of Gen Z consumers have lost faith in influencers. They are, unsurprisingly, more inclined to make purchases based on authentic recommendations. In fact, 86% would be more inclined to buy a product recommended by a friend than a paid influencer.

“This desire for authenticity makes it imperative that brands not only have products worth recommending but that they cultivate communities where authentic recommendations can take place,” says Hay. “In fact, there’s real hunger for this among Gen Z consumers. Some three quarters (74%) would promote a product they genuinely care about online. Moreover, 88% are enthusiastic about collaborating with brands, and 76% said they enjoy reviewing products.”

“In a world where 81% of consumers trust real opinions over those promoted via an advert,” Hay concludes. “It makes much more sense to allow consumers to be authentic advocates for a product or brand than to spend money on an ad that will, at best, be ignored and cause active resentment at worst.”

Download Ad blockers and advocacy: Why Gen Z is blocking paid ads in favour of real voices here.

Junior marketers ‘driving customer experience innovation’

Junior marketers are playing a leading role in driving innovation, with 50% saying that trying out new techniques and ideas to improve customer experiences is a major part of their day-to-day activities.

That’s according to Optimizely’s Culture of Experimentation report, based on a survey of 200 UK in-house marketing executives, assistants and managers, which also highlights that 50% of marketing assistants are directly responsible for improving the customer experience, compared to 42% of marketers at management level.

The report reveals junior team members are being entrusted with driving innovation and change to improve customer satisfaction, with only 14% saying they don’t have the freedom to try new things and 24% that their opinion isn’t valued by senior team members.

Commenting on the findings, Kirsten Allegri Williams, CMO of Optimizely, said: “It’s very encouraging to see that so many junior marketers in the UK are being inspired to challenge established marketing practices. Experimentation is integral to the customer experience, so introducing this mindset and challenging the status quo can significantly impact how brands interact with their audiences in a positive way.

“Junior marketers are the ones who are likely to shape the future of UK marketing. Bringing this experimentation practice will absolutely help to advance their careers, along with their enthusiasm and a fresh thinking. It’s vital that senior team members embrace this and drive collaboration at all levels, making everyone feel heard so new data-based changes are implemented wherever possible.”

The B2B alternative to influencer marketing

Jamie Barlow, managing director of Hyped Marketing, discusses the effectiveness of influencer marketing…

If you’ve ever taken out a traditional print or TV ad, you’ll know how pricey they can be.

Unfortunately, ramped up costs don’t always equal effectiveness. And traditional ads don’t always offer the best return on investment. As such, many businesses are turning to influencer marketing.

But what is influencer marketing exactly?

On a basic level, it’s a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements from “influencers”, who are viewed as experts in their field. Think of it a little bit like PR. Only, instead of getting exposure from publications, you’re getting it through individuals and their social channels.

Why is influencer marketing effective?

Influencer marketing works because of one crucial thing: trust. Think about it — how much do you trust messages from a business compared to those from your friends or colleagues? Or reviews on a company website compared to those from other customers on Google?

Over time, influencers have built up a loyal following of people, who hang on their every word, actively engage with them and trust that the recommendations they make are genuine. So, if you can get these individuals to spread your message, you’ll massively boost persuasiveness.

Plus, since influencers operate independently and create their own content, they are in control of how they portray your message (within reason). This promotes authenticity and can help you reach a specific target audience.

The rise of B2B influencer marketing

When it comes to influencer marketing, there’s no denying that B2B companies were late to the game. While B2C brands were establishing relationships with influencers, the B2B world was only just discovering social media.

Even now, the likes of Instagram and YouTube are dominated by bikini-clad influencers pushing the latest superfood products to consumers. (Hey, we only said they were viewed as experts — not that they necessarily are!)

But the reality is, influencer marketing is far more important for B2B than B2C. After all, the average purchase prices in B2B completely dwarf those in B2C. People are also less likely to gamble on purchasing B2B products and services as they would with consumer goods. So, word-of-mouth and influencer marketing are essential to drive leads and sales.

How to get into influencer marketing

First and foremost, you need to forget all about going after those big influencer names. They’re out of reach (and way out of budget for SMEs). Plus, people are starting to see through these mega-influencers.

Nothing compromises credibility faster than a tone-deaf endorsement from a high-profile influencer, who everyone knows was paid thousands for a single social post. Instead, you need to be exploring a more niche influencer marketing strategy — looking at respected speakers, authors, podcasters and commentators in your industry.

For one, a micro-influencer will also be a lot easier on your marketing budget. Secondly, even though these micro-influencers have much smaller audiences, their followers will invariably be far more engaged and switched on to what they have to say. Together, this means your cost per post engagement will be much lower.

It’s also worth pointing out that you’ve probably got a whole bunch of potential influencers sitting right next to you — your employees or colleagues! Collectively, your employees and co-workers will have far more connections than your company and appear much more authentic. So, you should never underestimate the value of employee advocacy and influence.

Encouraging employees to share relevant industry and company-related content is a great way to engage this often-overlooked resource. LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for sharing though-led articles and company posts via employees. In fact, employee re-shares of company-posted content often have more than double the click-through rate of the original post!

And a final piece of advice — don’t expect to see results overnight. B2B purchases involve multiple decision-makers, meaning it will often take much longer for the impact of influencer marketing to reach all these people.

IPA Bellwether reports UK digital ad budgets rise

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s (IPA) Bellwether reports marketeers have revised their budgets upwards in the first quarter of 2017, the highest level recorded in almost a decade.

Some 26.1 per cent of those companies polled remain positive about 2017/18 budgets, signalling growth for the coming year,  while 11.8 per cent of companies said that marketing budgets would increase during the first quarter of 2017.

32 per cent of those companies polled also reported improvement in the financial pipeline, compared to 19 per cent that predicted things would be worse during the quarter.

The IPA reported marketers on tighter budgets are seeing greater value from digital and positioning ad spend accordingly, mostly as a direct result of the unknown effects of Brexit negotiations and wider economic uncertainty.

However, despite a positive outlook for digital ad spends in 2017, the IPA predicts stagnation materialising in 2018, with marketers being advised by experts to proceed with caution.

Speaking about the report, the IPA’s director general Paul Bainsfair said: “The election result has thrown further uncertainty into an already volatile environment.

“It is inevitable that this has had a knock-on effect on UK. Specifically, for marketers this has meant a desire, where possible, to seek out more activation driven advertising. As evidenced strongly in this latest Bellwether Report, this has resulted in a further move towards advertising in the digital space.”