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Mobile Marketers Can Get Their Generational Clicks with Varied Engagement Tactics

3 minute read | August 2016

When it comes to mobile ads on your smartphone, marketers have an array of options that they can use to motivate consumers to take action (such as purchasing a product or service, visiting a location, etc.). Each option is as unique as the individual consumer, and each provides marketers with a plethora of opportunities for engagement.

With everything mobile, advertisers are still figuring out their engagement tactics. As marketers look to reach people on more personal levels, they hope at best, that their ads create enough of an emotional trigger to encourage a click and end with a purchase. At the least, they hope users will click an ad and make a mental note—giving consumers the necessary incentives to purchase.

In order to reach people personally, it’s critical for marketers to look at behaviors and interests by generation. How do different generations engage with mobile advertisements, and what are the greatest motivators for engagement?

According to Nielsen’s second-quarter 2016 Connected Device Report, 19% of Millennials, 17% of Generation X and 14% of Baby Boomers said that viewing an ad with a coupon or promotion is the top motivator when it comes to mobile advertising on smartphones. In comparison, Generation Z and the Greatest Generation are most motivated by an ad that is targeted to what they’re searching for–intent and relevance being key.

Interestingly, the greatest motivator for Generation Z changes when they view mobile advertisements on their tablets: Notably, they’re 16% more likely to engage with an ad of a familiar brand—key for marketers who find this group to be powerful in today’s connected ecosystem. Fourteen percent are motivated by an ad with a coupon or promotion—a win-win for brands that can reach this group by being one of their favorite brands and offering a discount deal.

While the assumption might be that people across all generations dislike mobile advertising, the opposite proves to be true for Generation Z and Millennials. Forty-two percent of Generation Z and 44% of Millennial smartphone users are okay with advertising if the content they’re engaging with is free and the ads don’t affect their mobile data consumption. Equally as important to note, 32% of Generation Z and Millennials are more likely to click on an ad that doesn’t take them outside of the application or redirect them to another website; convenience the underlying theme.

Be it a sign of the times and how generations interact with mobile devices differently, younger smartphone users are more willing to give up some of their personal details in exchange for free or reduced-cost content than older consumers. In fact, 55% of Generation Z and 48% of Millennials are willing to take action on an ad if they’re given the right mix of branding, convenience and promotional offering. Whereas Generation X, Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation tend to be more skeptical of releasing their personal info, deal or no deal.

The takeaway for mobile advertisers? Mobile ads could be a good way to reach consumers— especially if they come with offers and promotions. As for engaging with people across the generational divide– make it personal, make it relevant and throw in a discount for good measure.


The insights from Nielsen’s Mobile Connected Device Report were gathered from general population sample 13+ years and with 8,444 respondents who own a tablet, smartphone or streaming-capable device. All numbers reflect self-reported data. The Connected Device Report was conducted online in English.

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