Gen Z grew up digital. Now their lives revolve around digital. And new Criteo research shows that they’re more likely than their older cohorts to be influenced by digital ads and buy the products they see in digital ads.
This is great news for marketers that invest in making every interaction with an ad relevant and personalized. While they can measure the success of their digital ad campaigns by views and clicks, they can’t always tell how consumers feel about their ads and how their ads indirectly influence purchase decisions.
When Criteo surveyed over 1,000 consumers in the US for our 2020 Shopper Story research1, the data was clear: Consumers don’t just accept that they’ll see ads online. Many shoppers say they interact with ads while they use the internet and like the products they see in ads.
It got more interesting when we broke down our research by age2. Younger digital natives, who grew up with the internet and have always had all the information they want at their fingertips, feel the most positive about online ads and are most likely to take action after seeing an ad.
Here’s everything we found when we looked at what different generations think about online ads:
1. Gen Z is most likely to be influenced by online ads when they’re deciding what to buy.
About one in four Gen Z shoppers we surveyed in the US said that online advertising—including image, text, and video ads—has become more influential in their purchase decisions over the last two years. Only 9% of Gen Zers said online advertising has become less influential in their purchase decisions.
Compared to older generations in the US and around the world, Gen Zers are the most likely to be influenced by online ads when they’re deciding what to buy.
Outside of the US, there are some markets where Gen Z is even more receptive to online ads than in the US. In the UK, the percent of Gen Zers that say online ads have become more influential rises to 31%. In Italy, it shoots up to 38%.
2. Younger consumers are most likely to buy products shown in online ads.
All consumers like what they see in online ads. Overall, more than half of shoppers click on ads and half purchase products in those ads.
Three in five Gen Z and Millennial shoppers confirmed that they click on ads while using the internet. The same number said that they buy products that are recommended to them in ads.
Out of all the generations, Gen Zers and Millennials are most likely to purchase the products shown to them in ads—but the Gen X, Boomer, and Silent generations are not far behind. In comparison, two in five Boomers and Silent Generation consumers say they buy products recommended to them in ads.
3. Every generation discovers new products through sponsored ads.
Online advertising isn’t always about the conversion—it can prompt product discovery, too, across all generations of shoppers.
Our Shopper Story survey found that two out of three Gen Z and Millennial consumers say they discover new brands and products through sponsored ads. The same goes for Gen X—almost two-thirds of them report that online ads help them discover new brands and products.
4. Every generation likes the products they see in online ads.
According to the data, ad personalization efforts are paying off: All generations say they like the product recommendations that they see in online ads.
Seventy-one percent of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers confirm that the products they see in online ads are ones they would buy. And there’s just a slight decrease in the number of Gen X and Boomer and Silent consumers who say the same.
5. Gen Z is most likely to take action after seeing a sponsored ad in search results.
We asked shoppers of all ages what they do after they see sponsored ads in search results, and we found that Gen Z is most likely to click a sponsored image ad and most likely to make a purchase—either online or offline—after seeing an image ad or text ad.
Yes—sponsored ads influence both online and offline purchases. Gen Z shoppers, for example, are just as likely to make an offline purchase after seeing a sponsored image or text ad.
Our research disproves that online ads only impact online purchases. In reality, the customer journey is complex and there are many online-to-offline interactions.
Meanwhile, boomers and consumers in the Silent generation are more likely to click on a sponsored image ad than a text ad like Gen Z, but they’re less likely to make a purchase online or offline after seeing either type of ad.
The Next Generation of Advertising
Criteo’s Shopper Story survey tells us that online advertising promotes product discovery, influences purchase decisions, and triggers purchases online and offline.
That’s why we believe the next generation of advertising must empower brands to reach consumers when they have the highest intent to browse and buy products—it’s called Retail Media.
Retailers are becoming more like publishers and are helping brands reach their first-party audiences of active shoppers with commerce-driven ads.
Criteo Retail Media gives brand advertisers access to inventory on retailer sites with native onsite ads that reach consumers while they’re actively shopping. We also offer data-driven offsite ads that reach consumers as they browse the open internet—all in a way that is shopper-friendly.
We’ve conducted an updated Shopper Story survey for today’s evolving world. See what’s changed by downloading our new Shopper Story 2022 report:
1Criteo Shopper Story Survey, US, July-August 2019, n=1,013.
2Definitions of generations – Gen Z: born after 1994 (under 25); Millennials: born between 1981 and 1994 (25-38 yo); Gen X: born between 1965 and 1980 (39-54 yo); Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964 (55-73 yo); Silent: born before 1946 (74+ yo).