Audience Engagement Digital Innovation Top Stories
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Gen Z and AI: The Publishers’ Guide

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This is an excerpt from our free-to-download report, AI implications on Gen Z Audience Development

From X to Millennials, A to Z: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Gen Z

Who are Gen Z?

Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, iGen, or post-millennials, refers to the cohort of individuals born roughly between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s and can be characterised by several key traits that set them apart from previous generations.

Gen Z are often misunderstood

The term “Gen Z” is one that gets bandied about a lot, often accompanied by negative adjectives such as “coddled” and complaints about the supposedly ever-decreasing attention span of young adults and teenagers, a phenomenon which many people attribute to their lifelong interaction with technology.

According to research by Stanford’s Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences (CASBS)…

Gen Z is highly collaborative and values teamwork, largely because they grew up in a digital age that facilitated constant connectivity and enabled them to engage and collaborate with others easily. This collaborative mindset extends to their approach to addressing and attempting to navigate challenges.

Able to envisage and implement practical solutions

Gen Z, known for their resourcefulness, has demonstrated an ability to conceive and execute practical solutions that produce substantial outcomes.

This practicality is rooted in their experience with a swiftly evolving world, which necessitates swift adaptation to new technologies and social dynamics. Undoubtedly, this adaptability will extend to their interaction and engagement with AI technology.

Strong sense of social consciousness

Furthermore, many Gen Z individuals display a powerful social awareness. They express a deep concern for societal issues, actively and vocally campaigning for change. Greta Thunberg, perhaps the most well-known representative of Gen Z, encapsulates this strong social conscience.

With interests spanning from climate change to social justice, Gen Z is passionate about making a positive impact on the world, while promoting inclusivity in meaningful and impactful ways.

Adaptable and inherently engaged

Adaptable as well as deeply engaged with the broader world around them, Gen Z is prepared to take on the challenges and opportunities AI offers, and appears ready to harness its virtually limitless possibilities across both personal and professional aspects of life.

Having grown up with extensive access to the internet and digital technologies, Gen Z displays a unique relationship with and strategy towards new technologies, resulting in a higher appreciation and more seamless integration of these tools into their daily routines compared to any previous generation.

New kind of relationship with technology

From smartphones to social media platforms, Gen Z, like many of us, heavily depend on technology for communication, entertainment, as well as for information access. However, their relationship with technology transcends mere convenience.

The same Stanford study found that digital tools and tech actually form an essential part of their identity, leading to a more intuitive tech-savviness and a digital fluency that allows them to confidently navigate complex digital landscapes. They quickly adapt to new technologies and are often early adopters, in turn driving trends and shaping digital culture.

Social media’s role in Gen Z’s tech engagement

Social media plays a crucial role in Gen Z’s tech engagement, and many will have spent much of their adolescence as active users of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, leveraging these channels to express themselves, connect with peers, and consume more content than ever before. This has subsequently translated into an inherent affinity for visual and interactive experiences that continues to drive the rise of short-form video content and influencer culture.

While this kind of content and the online culture it engenders has been widely criticised for its artificiality, hypocrisy, and perpetuation of impossible ideals, we are witnessing an important pivot in how younger users engage with these platforms.

Increasingly, Gen Z values authenticity and personalisation in their tech experiences and tends to seek out brands and products that align with their values and offer tailored experiences. Their tech engagement is closely tied to trust, and they are more likely to interact with brands that prioritise transparency, ethical practices, and data security – all of which will become increasingly important as we continue to witness the implementation of AI in our daily digital landscapes.

Gen Z and AI

Gen Z’s engagement with AI is poised to be significant, but in order to develop this audience, it is essential to understand their preferences and expectations. As the first generation never to know a world without the internet, they value diversity and seek unique identities while being open to expressing opinions in online dialogue.

The main opportunity for AI to connect with and influence this particular audience is by using its ability to predict and reflect human behaviour, bringing us closer to contextual AI that can interpret and process human context and therefore bridge the gap between humans and machines in a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship.

A summarised Gen Z timeline


YouTube launches

This video-sharing platform has become a dominant source of entertainment and information for Gen Z, leading to the rise of influencers and vloggers as a new form of celebrity.


iPhone launches

Apple introduced the first iPhone: Smartphones have fundamentally reshaped the way Gen Z interacts with technology and the world, enabling constant connectivity, and the growth of mobile apps and social media.


Snapchat introduces stories

Snapchat introduced Stories: This feature has changed social media by making it more real-time and ephemeral, influencing Gen Z’s approach to sharing and communicating online.


TikTok launch

TikTok brought a new dimension to social media with its short-form video content, quickly becoming a favourite among Gen Z.


AI & Machine Learning advancements:

The continuous advancement in AI & ML technologies has started to shape various aspects of Gen Z’s life, from personalised recommendations in apps to virtual assistants.

This is an excerpt from our free-to-download report, AI implications on Gen Z Audience Development

With key insights into how AI is influencing Gen Z’s media habits – from content personalisation to combating information overload – the report demonstrates clearly how AI is becoming an essential tool in creating a more resonant media experience for Gen Z. 

Click here to access the report