• mckenna495

How do you find the elusive Gen Z online?

Updated: Aug 30

You would think Gen Z (for our purposes those born between 1997 and 2012) would be the ideal audience for digital advertising. They have grown up in an internet-enabled era, never knowing a world where you wrote checks by hand or couldn’t video call someone across the globe at the push of a button. And they are MASSIVE users of the internet.

  • 58% of Gen Z can’t go more than 4 hours without Internet access before they become uncomfortable.

  • In 5 years, 64% of Gen Z thinks the Internet will determine what they will do on a daily basis.

  • 56% of Gen Z is friends with someone they ONLY know online.(1)

Marketers would love to reach this group, not only do they direct $44bn in spend annually and influence $600bn annual family spend.(2) In 2018, for example, RetailMeNot said that marketing spend targeting Gen Z was growing by 65%.(3)


BUT …. Gen Z is hard to reach online. And even harder to do so with accuracy. The 18-24-year-old segment is the least well-covered age group amongst 3rd party data providers, both from a scale and quality perspective. They end up commanding high CPMs and yet offer the lowest chance of ads being seen.


3rd party segments targeting this group are, on average, 17.3% accurate (e.g. the average Truthscore ™ in this group is .17), whereas the average for all other age groups is almost double that! (31%)


Several data providers in the ecosystem are doing a great job finding this market both with scale and accuracy. We talked to Infutor and Epsilon about how they find Gen Z data and why they are different from the predecessors..


Some thoughts they shared on why Gen Z is so hard to accurately find online:

  1. “The longer the paper trail, the better the profile.” Gen Z, given their age, has the shortest paper trail of offline transactions, which tend to be the most accurate. The bias of most data sets is towards older individuals. And because of privacy laws regarding children, age 18 is really the birth of anyone’s virtual identity.

  2. Hard to pin down. This is the age when you may go away to college, giving each person two residences. For providers working with offline data, this makes it very hard to combine any sort of inputs and get an accurate source of truth

  3. Not ready for big financial commitments. The best sources of offline data come from things Gen Z may yet not do, like buying a home, opening a credit card, or getting an auto loan.

  4. They prefer renting! Gen Z has a well-known predisposition to rent rather than own, and this applies to their home situations as well. This lack of mortgage information means it’s harder to verify their places of residence and identity.


Given our focus on identity accuracy at the individual level, we take pride in our ability to create accurate segments for Gen Z at scale. For each of the 266 million identities in our identity graph, we require at least two authoritative supporting data points to ensure our understanding of an individual’s attributes. This high bar of data quality we set for ourselves makes Gen Z, with their comparatively shorter 'paper' trail, much harder to accurately identify at scale. Most of our success in accurately identifying Gen Z'ers with best-in-class scale comes from strategically combining offline and online data to ensure we capture their activities in both environments.” Mary Jo Yafchak, VP, Data Strategy Infutor


We are able to find more Gen Z consumers due to our unique sources that can locate and verify them. We have proprietary transactional data that helps us identify them as they start to purchase, especially online. Ensuring validation from at least 2 other sources ensures accuracy; our proprietary sources, from both traditional offline activities and transactions, helps ensure we have more ways to validate a Gen Z consumer to deliver more scale.” Gillian MacPherson, VP of Product Epsilon.



Finding Gen Z requires sophisticated marketing efforts, from content and context to using quality data. Truthset can help marketers select segments and providers that have the most accurate reach to improve campaign delivery and effectiveness. Contact us to learn more.




1. https://wpengine.com/gen-z-us/

2. CMO.com

3. https://www.marketingcharts.com/business-of-marketing/marketing-budgets-82599




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