An Unlikely Pair: Gen Z and DOOH

Published: October 11, 2021

Generation Z is the true ‘digital founders,’ growing up in an omnichannel marketing landscape and having little or no memory of society as it existed before smartphones. Born between 1997-2012, they are the largest generation, overshadowing millennials with 72 million people. Not to mention, they are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, with one-in-four Gen Zers being Hispanic, 14% are black, 6% are Asian, and 5% are some other race or two or more races, according to Pew Research

Because of this, Gen Z is a highly influential consumer audience that companies and advertising brands need to notice. As Gen Z grows older, brands must figure out how to connect with this growing audience, who have a spending power of $143 billion and $600 billion annually in influenced family spending and were estimated to account for about 40% of global consumers in 2020. As ads and messaging become omnipresent - dominating online and offline - brands need to figure out the best way to capture Gen Zer’s attention. With programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising, marketers can build brand awareness and stand out from the competition with these high-tech consumers.  

Why? According to a study from the OAAA and Nielson, OOH is the highest among young consumers in driving attention, reaching 90% of US residents ages 16 and up in the past month and 80% noticing ads every week. 

Although Gen Z is widely known for being addicted to their screens, the majority still prefer making purchases in brick-and-mortar retailers. A study done by the leading global management consulting firm, Kearney, found a whopping 81% of consumers prefer to purchase in-store, and 58% generally agree they use in-person shopping as a way to disconnect from social media. And 86% found they are looking for “exclusives and promotions including free samples, giveaways, and contests.” 

With this information, brands can promote their products on screens that reach shoppers inside and around brick-and-mortar stores or display ads on urban panels and spectaculars during the young consumers' commute. 

Additionally, in the AdAge report “Gen Z part cutting-edge and part-traditionalist,” 84% are paying attention to out-of-home ads in trains, malls, airports, and taxis. Advertisers need to find ways to cut through the ad clutter and blindness and ultimately stand out. Gen Z methodically avoids ads, with more than 50 percent ad blockers and 82 percent skipping ads. With OOH, ads are unskippable, unmissable, and unblockable - making out-of-home advertising more efficient for marketers as they continue to generate brand awareness and relevance with younger consumers.

With unlimited content at their fingertips, Gen Z comes with a short, 8-second attention span, which means marketers have some work to do in order to keep them engaged. If brands want to reach this generation, they need to integrate DOOH into their marketing mix. According to Neilsen, 66% of smartphone users take some type of action after seeing an OOH ad. Therefore, OOH adds value to the marketing mix, engaging consumers both in the physical and online world. 

Furthermore, a way to drive brand loyalty among the younger generation is through meaningful, socially-driven advertisements. It is not surprising that Nike is ranked the most trustworthy fashion brand by Gen Z and Millenials. And Nike is no stranger to out-of-home advertisements. Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign featured a larger-than-life black-and-white portrait of Colin Kaepernick, an American football player who took a knee during the American national anthem, with the copy, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” This controversial campaign spanned LA, NYC, and SF and resulted in many people boycotting the US multinational sportswear company, posting hateful tweets, and even making videos burning their products. However, Nike didn’t back down, and in due time, the campaign transitioned into positive worldwide attention with $6 billion in brand value, $163 Million in media earned, and a 31% increase in sales, and at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2019, won the top award for Out of Home. 

DOOH allows advertisers to be creative and visually engaging, especially as dynamic displays are more likely to catch Gen Z’s eyes. With large-format screens, prime locations, and the ability to hyper-locally target, DOOH creates a massive impact that online and digital campaigns simply cannot. Early adopters and modern marketers realize this emerging demographic has high standards, needing advertisers to be more transparent, authentic, courageous, and engaging with content that differentiates from the competition. So what are you waiting for? Our team of DOOH experts is prepared to help at no charge to you! Contact us at

Written By: Julia Cramer

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