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Mobilising the natives to engage the Gen Zs

Occasionally in life there is a meeting of forces that work to change the status quo; take for example the concept of the perfect storm, celebrated in the film of the same name as three different storm systems come together to create one hell of a bad day for the crew of a stricken trawler on the high seas.

Of course not all colliding forces have bad outcomes, and one such example is how the dramatic rise in smart phone technology is meeting the desire of Gen Zs and their Gen Y forebears; to be constantly communicating with each other, without break, while on the move or at rest. For advertisers anxious to knock on the door and introduce themselves this can be a bit of a problem as the door in question is, let’s face it, rather small. Unfortunately for advertising, unlike Alice of Alice in Wonderland fame, the ads don’t necessarily scale down perfectly to make the door a useful channel.

So the smart phone, as the exponentially available technology of choice for this target market, is the challenge that advertisers must overcome, finding a way to get noticed in a busy window often no more than the size of a car park ticket.

Add to that the very nature of the targeted beast itself and the size of the hurdle to be jumped becomes disturbingly clear. Gen Zs have evolved some mighty defence mechanisms to ensure that their main life objective of constant and instant communication with their friends remains untainted with the minutiae of life, such as world events, is there a God and where the next meal is coming from for a good percentage of the global family.

Their eyes and brains have co-ordinated to automatically filter out the unwanted bits on the screen, particularly the banner ads. The researchers are still undecided whether there is any substantial recall or communication of brand values from the ads when translated into the column nano-metres available on the typical phone.

So in this story the natives come to the rescue of the adman struck dumb. As ever in advertising, communication comes down to a few essentials such as being interesting, relevant and making the next step easy. Native advertising for the mobile market is about developing a stream of content that runs parallel with the chosen stream of the user; curiosity must be aroused to encourage the single minded and focused user to glance from time to time at the stream beside, or to allow the two to merge so that the two streams become indistinguishable from each other by the simple mechanism of relevance.

Native advertising for the mobile market will be more akin to fly fishing for new customers than the coarse trawling of markets. Current research gives mobile phone advertisers less than one second to catch the attention of their prey, so the skill for the future, like that of the fly fisherman, is in the preparation of the bait to ensure it is attractive, safe and potentially tasty, increasing the probability that the fish will bite.