With smartphone use and time spent on mobile continuing to rise, and mobile video a huge driver for growth, it’s easy to question the role of traditional audio-visual (AV) channels. Is television still relevant, particularly with Gen Z?

The AV market is going through massive change. With the growth of addressable TV, second screening, subscriptions, and video on demand (VOD), advertisers have more ways to reach their target audiences. These developments also mean advertisers don’t have to have big budgets to reach a TV screen or be seen near TV content. With a huge demand for VOD, consumers can access top-quality content wherever they are, with mobile living at the core to this consumption.

Advertisers need to be aware of the changing way Gen Z is accessing and consuming AV content.
Advertisers need to be aware of the changing way Gen Z is accessing and consuming AV content.

Whether a consumer is commuting, on a lunch break, or on the go, accessing content has never been easier — and new 5G networks are only going to make this even quicker and easier. This means advertisers need to consider their overall AV plan, not just linear TV. They’ll need to broaden their TV plan to ensure maximum reach by being aware of and true to wherever the target audience is consuming.

Another consideration is how different audiences are consuming AV and how Gen Z behaviours, in particular, impact how advertisers can drive reach.

Gen Z has always grown up with mobile tech and had easy access to AV via these devices alongside traditional TV. They use tech to express their identity, visually signalling their identity through memes, gifs, and emojis. The digital and physical identity merge for Gen Z, with gaming worlds driving this. They see no boundaries between online and offline, due to their deep integration within the media worlds.

The younger generations also merge worlds in their consumption with the explosion of platforms such as Twitch, where audiences watch other people playing games. Gen Z also consists of major YouTube consumers, a mobile-first platform. Three years ago, Google’s managing director of UK and Ireland operations claimed brands should be spending 24% of TV budget on YouTube. Since then, as the platforms and markets have developed, it’s clear YouTube is no longer in competition with TV but rather complementary.

YouTube remains mobile-first, but now the fastest growth is being seen on the TV screen, where 250 million hours of YouTube content has been consumed. YouTube and TV have complementary audiences — not exclusive access — so they need to work side by side.

In the United Kingdom, audiences still spend 3.5 hours on average watching TV each day. So, despite the fragmentation of the AV market, TV remains at the forefront of media consumption. The difference is that TV is now personal, where consumers create their own schedule. TV remains an important reaching and brand-building channel, where advertisers can tell their stories in 30-, 60-, or 90-second creative pieces — a much more involved time length than that recommended on mobile or social (5-15 seconds).

Advertisers won’t necessarily see the immediate returns of an online campaign, but TV still drives long-term growth. With every £1 invested delivering £4.20 in profit, brands need to use the channel in conjunction with the wider mix to deliver their message and purpose to their target audiences.