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Ephemeral content: The long-lasting impact of short-lived marketing

by Jacqi Levy
    UNiDAYS x AdAge: Gen Z Marketing Playbook

    Boost sales with Gen Z this holiday (and beyond) with BOPIS

    Brick-and-mortars have cause for celebration—that is, if you’ve got a solid BOPIS scheme (aka Buy Online Pick-up In Store).

    Content that has an expiration date used to be a bad thing, but that's not so anymore. Ephemeral content platforms are changing the game with messages that are short-lived but frequent, and brands that are mastering the medium are earning the attention of Gen Z.


    As Gen Z takes its place this year as the biggest generation across the globe, it is on track to redefine marketing as we know it. Throughout recent history, every new generation has changed the face of advertising, and Gen Z’s unique consumption preferences have put marketers on notice—adapt...or fade away.

    Brands hoping to connect with this newest cadre of consumers must meet their expectations—namely, that messaging is to-the-point, authentic, and relevant.

    A new kind of ad for a new generation

    In addition to relevancy, Gen Z insists that advertising be honest and open-minded, and that it prioritizes diversity and inclusion. They consume on the go and will sniff out (and ignore) promotions that are unabashedly salesy.

    For them, content is personal. The more authentic it is, the more likes, shares, and clicks it will get. Your marketing needs to be transparent—a “how-to” manual for your brand, showing how and why you do what you do. The glossy, vacuous promotions of years gone by won’t work on this crowd. Authentic stories and behind-the-scenes social media content—created by real people—prove to be far more persuasive.

    So how do marketers create campaigns that will prompt Gen Z to pause and watch, rather than swipe and skip?

    Ephemeral content is the new black

    Ephemeral content—short-lived, story-focused messaging that lasts a maximum of 24 hours—is an increasingly effective way to reach younger Millennials and Generation Z. It is raw, in-the-moment and hinges on the concept of FOMO, prompting your audience to take immediate action.

    Not only should ephemeral stories be short, but they should also be frequent. It’s crucial that the speed at which you share your content increases—especially as the lifespan of your posts decreases. Snapchat is a pioneer in this field, with Instagram Stories a close follow-up.

    Short-lived content has the most impact when it gives the viewer something unique and expected. When Kylie Jenner pulls back the curtain on her daily life, Forever 21 takes you inside a photo shoot, or Logan Paul promotes a pop-up shop, followers take note and trust those celebrities and brands when it comes time to make a purchase.

    Leaders in the field

    Companies large and small looking to connect with Gen Z have taken notice of this trend and want to ride the ephemeral marketing wave. Some of the more surprising examples include:

    Play the long game with short content

    Like a perfectly salted margarita or the gooiest chocolate chip cookie, the best content is savored in the moment, gone in an instant, and leaves you feeling great about the people who gave it to you (and wanting to tell others about it).

    Focus on what’s unique and exciting about you, not what will sell. Tell stories that illuminate why you do what you do, not why a customer should buy it. Do all of this and you will have Gen Z’s attention. In the long run, this is worth far more than any single sale.


    Want a deeper dive? Download the report Gen Z: Decoding the Digital Generation.

      UNiDAYS x AdAge: Gen Z Marketing Playbook


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