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The Humans Who Yearn for Authenticity: Hello Generation Z

By Betsy Scuteri, Last Modified
Jun 16, 2015
> Marketing

SDX, formerly the San Diego Ad Club, held its 11th annual digital marketing conference, Interactive Day San Diego on Friday, June 12th. 

Approximately 1,000 marketing professionals and enthusiasts got together to discuss and learn how the fast-changing digital landscape is impacting media, marketing and technology. Thirty-four speakers and four keynotes later, what really stuck out is the 12- to 19-year-olds that will soon account for 40% of all consumers and what we need to know in order to market to them. 

Enough About Millenials Already. What About Generation Z?

During the lunch keynote, Lucie Greene (@lucieluxury) of J. Walter Thompson shared information on Generation Z, the 12- to 19-year-olds group making up a quarter of the population in the U.K. and U.S. and has $44 billion in annual purchasing power. The data and information was gathered from their latest survey and research report

The good news, marketers? This group is refreshingly different from the selfie-obsessed millennials. With technology in their hands from birth, being constantly connected has made this age group more in touch, empathetic and sophisticated.

They are aware of world events and environments and genuinely really care about making a difference, engaged in education and want to have an interactive experience and see themselves as part of content (UGC). So for a brand, they will be looking at the behavior of your company, how you treat your staff, and can call rubbish much faster than you can apologize (or not). And, if you are not creating content that they can manipulate and be a part of something that is bigger than your revenues, they will move on. We are starting to live in a world of authenticity where tricking an audience just.doesn' Z

(Source: JWT Intelligence)

Don't Hijack the User

Along with making sure your brand is authentic, Kevin Knight (@kevinjknight), Head of Agency and Brand Strategy at Pinterest, provided context around the hallmark of digital advertising.

“We’ve been taught to hijack people’s experience interrupting them with ads and that just doesn’t work,” said Knight.

Brands that market with the medium in mind can tell a story that doesn’t feel like advertising. exercised this well when they created a video for Facebook with no sound in the video knowing that the majority of the users on Facebook don’t listen to the audio anyway. It's both smart and contextual.

And because he’s from Pinterest, Knight left the audience with a few pointers on creating impactful pins (hint: Pinterest is about the future). They are:

  • Include detailed instructions in your pins, step-by-step and how to lists do well
  • Use text overlays on pictures
  • Use human images instead of graphic icons (tasteful branding)
  • Use branded colors & settings

Digital Innovations Changing Marketing (Plus Some Fun Facts)

Like many conferences, there are always some fun facts and cool innovations talked about. This one definitely didn't lack. Here are some to leave you with...

  • People spend on average 9.9 hours/day on a screen, 2.8 hours of which are on portable screens. - Mary Meeker's 2015 Internet Trends

  • Within five years, we won’t be talking about “mobile,” the same way we don’t talk about “going online” anymore. - @newmediageek of @Razorfish

  • Building a well-SEO’d site may be less valuable than building a powerful brand. - @randfish

  • Culture is 10,000 tiny decisions to be better. – John Harman of @PistonAgency

  • 72% of people prefer “Hi” to “Hello.”

  • Average half-life of a tweet is 24 minutes. - @_jmccaff

  • One of every five social TV comments has to do with ESPN, making it the number one network in generating social TV commentary. - Justin Hergianto, Senior Director of Digital Sales at ESPN

  • First party data is the most valuable data in the world. - Seph Zdarko of @Quantcast

  •  For a truly unbiased search result: 1. Incognito window 2. Non-US google ( 3. &gl=US after your search - @randfish

  •  47% of listeners consider pr purchase a product when recommended by their favorite radio personality.

Last, PitchTech!

Finally, I can’t forget to mention PitchTech. Four years ago, SDX smartly incorporated a live start-up pitch competition to the conference to keep innovation at the core of marketing today.

Every start-up is built around the same technology that marketers build for their clients, whether it is an app to improve the user experience or a virtual company that serves a particular audience. PitchTech gives "a unique opportunity to put your brand in front of some of the top innovators, angels, VC's and influencers in the tech community," says Chad Robley, Founder and CEO of Mindgruve, and Co-Chair of Interactive Day.

This year, 25 entrepreneurs submitted and 10 finalists pitched three tech industry experts (from Crescent Ridge Partners, ecoATM and My Medical Forum) for a chance to win $5k and be featured at TEDxSanDiego. The winner of the event was GoShare, a platform that connects drivers who have a pickup truck, van or SUV with people nearby who need help moving, hauling or delivering cargo on demand.

Betsy Scuteri
Betsy Scuteri
See Betsy Scuteri's Profile
Betsy Scuteri is the Editor in Chief at where she oversees content marketing and product. She writes on topics including digital marketing, management and leadership, lead generation, content marketing, email marketing and corporate branding. Prior to, Betsy led corporate and digital marketing strategy for a number of brands in the entertainment, telecom, education and consumer industries. She served as a publicist for Miramax early in her career and even dabbled in radio broadcasting at Clear Channel. In her spare time, she likes running and chasing her kids around, which usually results in more running - good thing she likes it.
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