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August 26, 2022
August 26, 2022

2020: The Year That Changed Video Consumption

How video became a connector for Gen Z and millennials during the pandemic
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Zers and millennials were experiencing a fundamental shift in their digital-media use, particularly their mobile video consumption. As the pandemic and stay-at-home orders continue into 2021, the changes that fully formed in 2020 have now been cemented in the lives of Gen Zers and millennials, significantly altering their use of mobile video for years to come. 
Omnicom Media Group and Snap Inc. embarked on a joint research study1 to understand this evolution in mobile behavior that Gen Zers and millennials are experiencing — in real time. Specifically, we sought to identify the emotional impact of viewing video on mobile platforms during a time of unprecedented social and political change while offering guidance for brands to navigate these uncharted waters. We engaged Alter Agents, an independent research consultancy, to conduct a two-part research study between July and October 2020. First, a 15 minute online survey was answered by 1,000 Gen Zers and millennials (13 to 34 year-olds) about their mobile video behaviors and how they have changed due to the pandemic. Second, thirty-five Gen Z and millennials watched mobile video content and neuroscience measures were collected using an approach developed by Immersion.

Video Consumption Is Higher — And It’s Here to Stay:

Gen Z and millennials significantly increased their video consumption in 2020, with a focus on mobile and social media video content. In fact, Gen Zers and millennials say that they watch over one hour per day watching video on social media apps alone. Over half (52%) of both Gen Zers and millennials say this increased viewing is here to stay. 

Videos and Platforms Can Influence Users’ Moods

While Gen Zers and millennials generally choose to watch videos that are happy and fun, they watch video on platforms for myriad reasons, from lifting one’s mood to entertainment to connecting with family. Driver-mapping shows that watching videos on Snapchat helps Gen Zers and millennials relieve stress and feel creative. However, video on some platforms can cause frustration and stress.

Video on Snapchat Drives Attention and Emotional Response  

Leveraging remote measurement of neurological responses to videos on Snapchat and two additional mobile platforms, immersion data shows that consumers are highly engaged and immersed while watching videos on these apps. Video on all three tested mobile platforms outperformed immersion industry benchmarks.

However, there are slight nuances among the tested platforms that are worth evaluating in greater depth. Snapchat Friend Stories had the strongest Immersion Index (Attention + Emotional Response) out of the user stories tested across the apps. We suspect this performance is driven by a greater likelihood to view stories by real, close friends. With the exception of Snapchat, the tested platforms caused longer and more frequent instances of lower immersion and were more likely to cause negative experiences that lead to disengagement. On the other hand, Snapchat showed longer and more frequent instances of higher immersion and was less likely to cause stress for Gen Zers and millennials. 

Key Takeaways for Advertisers

As expected, viewer attention on all tested mobile platforms dips during ad experiences but still outperforms industry benchmarks. The lean-forward nature of mobile video and positive motivations outlined in the driver-mapping provides a heightened level of attention and emotional engagement when viewing ad content. Knowing that this natural dip can occur reinforces the importance of great, engaging creative that holds the user's attention. 
However, differences in motivations and emotional response to video viewing on these platforms also play a critical role in how much attention is paid to video advertising and how engaged a user is when viewing video advertising. 

Overall, Snapchat video ads were 8% more immersive than ads on the other apps tested and  36% more immersive than the overall advertising industry benchmark.
These Immersion Index differences are meaningful — Alter Agents and Immersion have found that higher levels of immersion lead to a greater likelihood of recalling ad content and seeking out information. 
Lastly, immersion was found to dip during longer videos as users are primed to expect shorter lengths. When Gen Z and millennials were asked how often they watch shorter versus longer videos on their phones, they indicated a strong preference toward videos 5 minutes or less.
Ultimately, brands should examine these learnings when developing creative and media recommendations. Consider why users turn to video on specific platforms and their resulting emotional experiences when placing media buys. Align messaging with the moods these videos attempt to satisfy. Mitigate for emotional dips from content to advertising through engaging, attention-grabbing creative. Be thoughtful of when and how to leverage longer length ad content in a way that will both capture and maintain attention.

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1Source: 2021 Alter Agents study commissioned by Snap Inc.