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What Does A Young Digital Agency Really Think About Your Advertising?

What young digital agencies think of advertising

Arc Interactive’s office is proudly youthful, with predominantly 20 (and a few 30 somethings) leading the way in our digital content creation. So, when sitting down to write this Youth Month inspired opinion piece, I thought who better to ask than my awesome co-workers? Here are the key takeaways from the chat we had about advertising that’s aimed at young people (a.k.a, us).

Ads annoy us (kind of)

Things got brutally honest very quickly in our chat, and I found it quite curious that the majority of us (working at a digital marketing agency), agreed that we aren’t fans of ads. Some of us (like millions of netizens) even use browser extensions such as Ad Blocker to avoid ads when we’re browsing online (unless we’re spying on the competition, of course).

Copywriter and community manager Khanyi explained that ads annoy her because most of them are irrelevant, and she prefers to search for information on a product herself instead of having it imposed upon her.

Community manager, Noni, agreed with that sentiment too, adding that if an ad doesn’t grab her within the first few seconds, she doesn’t pay it any mind. Strategist and content manager, Nicole, said that while digital advertisers serve her ads around exactly what they think she’d be interested in, she just doesn't find them exciting and doesn't take much notice of them.

On the other hand, digital designer Deneo was an outlier, saying that she actually does engage with online ads because she does a lot of online shopping, and finds many of the ads to be relevant to products she’s interested in.

Internet killed the radio star?

When discussing where we consume the majority of advertising, it was no surprise that most everyone who was part of the conversation said “the internet”. We pretty much unanimously agreed that we don’t really watch TV anymore because, well, Netflix and other streaming services exist.

However, traffic manager Chantel brought up an interesting point about traffic (not the agency kind). She mentioned that she spends a long time in traffic every day so while she isn’t really exposed to television ads, she does listen to radio ads and she isn’t really a fan of most of them. Given that Millennial and more recently, older members of Gen Z do a lot of driving to either varsity or work, radio ads can be a great way to connect with them (provided they’re done right).

All hope is not gone

These issues may seem like substantial hurdles for advertisers, but can they be fixed? Of course, they can! Advertisers can connect to their youthful audiences more, provided they’re willing to listen to feedback and implement changes where needed. Here are a few good places to start:

1. Be genuine

Chantel mentioned that her biggest issue with ads is that they “all seem very researched”, while Siza said that the biggest mistake advertisers make when they try to relate to the youth “is when they try”. Siza continued by explaining that "we can always tell who’s talking”, and that she’d like to see less archetypal and “one size fits all” approaches in advertising. Nicole adds to this by saying the following: “advertising comes off as insincere when brands use events and occasions to be something they are not - the audience sees right through it”. That’s why it’s so important for brands to develop their own messaging and use it consistently.

2. Walk your talk

Advertising your brand is all good and well, but it takes more than that to win over (and retain) your young customers. We hold brands up to the high standards which their ads set up for them, so if a brand is all talk but poor quality and customer service, that bad reputation will negate any positive marketing efforts. Remember, most of us rely on word of mouth and online reviews before trusting a brand, so ensuring that your offerings are on par with your promises is crucial.

3. Target properly

According to research released by Ask Afrika in 2017, “South Africa’s 29 million consumers aged 15-34 hold 55% of the spending power (over R100 billion per annum)”. While it’s clear that budget should be allocated to targeting them online, much of that budget will likely go to waste if your marketing efforts are not properly targeting your young audiences.

There are tons of resources and tools you can find online to make your digital advertising more effective, so be sure to keep up with the latest Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) practices and allocate your spend wisely.

The youth market may seem complicated and difficult to please, but that isn’t really the case. We’re just disenchanted with insincere and shallow advertising techniques, and wish we could see more honesty and awareness from the brands that try to interact with us. So if you’d truly like to resonate with your youth audience, be a genuine brand that addresses us not as children, but as critical thinkers and informed consumers. Well hey, that’s actually pretty simple.

For more information, visit www.arcinteractive.co.

About the author

Zapriana Atanassova is a digital copywriter and community manager with a passion for creativity and communication. After majoring in Journalism and International Studies at Monash South Africa, she found her place among the creative (crazy) geniuses of the Arc Interactive team – a digital marketing agency based in Sandton, Johannesburg.

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