Gen Z’s in College and Mobile Advertising


The Gen Z generation grew up during the beginning of the smartphone era. Many received phones at ages as young as 10 years old. They can’t even begin to imagine what life is like without a smartphone at their disposal 24/7. No Instagram, Snapchat, or even text messages? That would be absurd. There are disadvantages to this reliance on smartphones, more for reasons outside of the realm of the marketing industry. But today, we will be focusing on how this reliance is ideal for marketers looking to engage in mobile advertising to reach a Gen Z audience in college. 

Mobile Device Use

Tapjoy, a mobile advertising and app monetization company, recently released a Modern Mobile Gamer report that highlights the views and behaviors of Gen Z’ers when it comes to their smartphones. They surveyed over 7,000 18-24-year-olds involving questions related to mobile device use and receptiveness to ads on mobile devices. It comes as no surprise that the Gen Z generation uses their smartphones more than any other generation. One statistic of note mentioned in Tapjoy’s report was that 68% of the individuals surveyed shop on their mobile devices up to four times weekly. This suggests a substantial potential for the effectiveness of mobile advertising in reaching this generation, with more and more of their shopping being done on smartphones. 

Another area where we see frequent Gen Z mobile device use is for food delivery. The report found that 60% use their mobile devices to purchase to-go food or delivery. This is most likely due to food delivery mobile apps such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub. Why call someone to order food when you can order almost any food you want with a few taps of a finger?

Game & Social Media Ads

Other noteworthy statistics include those related to mobile games and social media ads. The report found that Gen Z’ers are not as receptive to non-skippable video ads. However, they do pay more attention to rewarded ads in mobile apps. For example, 57% are more likely to make frequent retail purchases on mobile when rewarded in mobile games or through Instagram ads. Gen Z’ers are also fervent followers of retail brands on social media. They consider social media as one of their go-to activities while using their smartphones. Therefore, it makes sense that more than half of those surveyed have learned of a new product while on their mobile devices through content such as social media posts. 

When it comes to gaming on mobile devices, Gen Z’ers are the experts. They play and download the most games out of any other generation. 86% of those surveyed said that they use their mobile devices as a gaming platform. During 2020, 66% stated that they downloaded even more gaming apps (most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Mobile game ads are typically expected because it means that they will get more lives or get to play again after they watch or see the ad. 

In summary, the Gen Z generation is not familiar with a world without smartphones. Their mobile devices are where they may see ads most frequently, and they rely so heavily on these devices for their everyday needs and information. It is becoming easier and easier to purchase products and shop on mobile devices, leaving more opportunities for mobile advertising to come into play. Consider including mobile advertising in your next campaign to reach college students. 

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