If you want to attract younger audiences, as a publisher you must change your strategy

Gen Zers, as e-Marketer points out, are getting older. The oldest of them are now old enough to vote, they’re entering the workforce and they’re forecasted, in 2024, to surpass millennials in regular internet use. 

Even those among them who are yet to turn 18, are already avid smartphone users, just waiting to become old enough to use the internet as regularly as they wish. It is estimated that in 2024, when US Gen Z will be between 12 and 27 years old, their internet penetration will jump to 99.1%. 

But for all their ubiquitousness, there’s a place Gen Zers are seldom to be found, and that’s on the websites and apps of traditional online news publishers.

This poses a unique challenge for news publishers: they must attract younger audiences if they want to stay relevant, but how can they do so at a time when they’re also attempting to lock in users with subscription models, and upgrading their advertising strategy to satisfy ever increasing advertisers’ expectations?

The right tech is key to attract younger readers

Gen Zers entered the age of the internet via smartphone apps, especially social media apps, such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. This has led them to associate the internet with flawlessness and seamlessness, and to understand convenience and instant gratification as hygiene factors, rather than “nice to haves.”

Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2018/10/PJ_2018.10.30_europe-age_0-06.png

Mobile first then is not really another “option” for publishers who are looking to attract new audiences: it is a must. Nonetheless, not all publishers have been as quick to adjust to emerging trends.

For instance, while younger users expect mobile content to privilege video, and load in tune with their up scrolling finger, publishers are still lagging behind on video adoption, and often struggle to monetise their mobile pages, be they AMP or not.

Older generations sought out the news, newer ones except the news to “pop-up” for them

More crucially for online news publishers, Gen Z have grown up in a substantially different internet environment than everyone else. 

Previous generations learned to seek out the news actively: to go to this or that website, a television or a radio to hear what was going on in the world.

Not so, Gen Z. Their experience of the web was and keeps being, first and foremost, social: teenagers and young adult today expect actual news to reach them alongside other sources of entertainment, be they videos, memes, or, as they grow up, infotainment articles. 

For news outlets, this implies a need to shift strategy. As the Flamingo report by Reuters highlights, stories must today be told in ways that fit the expectations of young people, through native mobile formats that offer a more social-like experience. Broadly speaking, the key difference here is that younger readers have learned to expect the news to be something that “pops up” for them: either because a friend has shared it, or because they’ve received a notification.

For publishers, this means diversifying acquisition channels and leveraging the right tech that can at once satisfy relevant SEO standards and the expectations of new audiences.

One example of an underutilized channel is Google Discover. Most publishers don’t simply have a real strategy for appearing on Google’s highly personalized feed, which is far more popular among newer than older generations, and which feeds queryless content based on a user’s individual search and content preferences. This is different from what happens in social media, generally speaking, as on Facebook or Instagram you’re bound to see content from users you’ve followed: the problem for publishers in attracting Gen Zers on social is that, if other Gen Zers aren’t following them, it’s going to be hard for them to end up in front of younger readers’ eyeballs. 

This is just one area where leveraging the best technologies out there can really make a difference.  

Evolution Group has developed a series of technological products for publishers which make it easier and more effective to reach younger audiences, monetise mobile pages and index higher on Google Discover. 

If this is your goal for 2022 and beyond, get in touch with us for an overview of how we can support.