THE 2020 YOUTH SURVEY: GenZ and Millennials live in a completely digital world! Or do they?


As a mother of a young Millennial (25) and a “late” GenZ (22) kid, I’m always interested in the things that make young people tick, how they think about the important questions in life, and, having the profession that I have, how they experience media. For the past four years, Wayne Parker Kent (WPK) and Mediatest have been doing research on this particular age group. Very recently the results of 2020 were published, accompanied by a webinar in which the highlights were presented. A special remark on this: the fieldwork for this research was executed before the Covid-19 Pandemic hit us. WPK and Mediatest announced that they plan to do an update on their research later this year, especially to learn how the crisis effects the media behaviour of these two young generations. In this article I will take you through a number of the most interesting results.

Millennials research media usage

But first: who are we talking about?
GenZ – young people up till 24 years
Millennials: between 25 and 40 years

Note: Sample size is 3.041 people. Because the research was executed within the WPK network, the outcome is not 100% representative (sample is higher educated and live in a more urban environment). With the Dentsu M1 (CCS) tool we are able to rebuild this research for a nationally representative target audience. If you would like to know more, please contact us and we will be happy to help you.


As we have again seen in these past months news is of the utmost importance, also amongst the younger generations. But there is a big difference in how they gather this news. It is clear that the traditional sources for learning what’s going on in the world, are becoming more and more obsolete amongst the young generations. Social media (46%) and the digital newspaper (40%) are considered to be the most important source for news amongst both age groups; especially for GenZ social media are the go-to source for news (61%). Personally I find that a bit worrying; after all, nuance is often a hard to find commodity on social media. Millennials see the digital newspapers as their main source (53%). When we look at the difference between the sexes, we see a significant preference for social media with women and the digital newspapers with men.


A lot has been written about privacy on the internet, and all kinds of measurements are taken to guarantee your privacy, from GDPR legislation to dismissing 3rd party cookies (Google, Chrome, Safari). But those young people, do they really care? It appears that 25% of them can’t be bothered, and about 60% worry just a little bit. It’s not that they don’t know. About 92% of both generations are aware (and have consented) that their personal information is being used by the same social media that they spend 3 or 4 hours a day checking; and while Millennials are slightly more cautious about their privacy, especially GenZ men are quite carefree about things like online fraude, theft or hacking.


The research taps into a number of media touchpoints. It seems as if both GenZ and Millennials can only be found on digital media. Nevertheless, they still do watch TV and especially women do pick up an actual paper magazine now en then (GenZ 51% and Millennials 65%). A closer look at some of the most important media:

Watching On Demand is taking over rapidly. More than half of both generations are using one or more streaming services, and the mutual differences between both generations are negligible. Almost 23% of the young people are still watching TV the old-fashioned (i.e. linear) way. However, when asked about the future of linear TV respondents do not expect to do this very much longer and amongst Millennials 21% indicates that they don’t have (any longer) a subscription to a TV provider.

So, On Demand is the future, and Netflix is King of the Hill. A striking 92% of both generations uses Netflix, although they don’t always pay the full price for a subscription. The possibility to have a shared (family) account gives them the opportunity to split the costs and to have more than one streaming service at their disposal. Of the other platforms Disney+, being only introduced in November 2019, has had a flying start and is now almost as large as Videoland.

Top 3 On Demand services

Generation Netflix Videoland Disney+
Millennial 92% 29% 24%
GenZ 93% 31% 29%

Social Media

Social media channels have a lot of different forms and sizes, and appeal to all age groups. Looking at the development over the years, we see that Facebook is becoming more and more of a has-been amongst young people. In two years the use of Facebook has dropped a staggering 31% to 67% in 2020; GenZ has dropped even more, especially amongst men. Instagram and Snapchat are gaining ground, especially with GenZ. Other social media are more or less stable, and we have yet to find out what Tik tok is going to do over the next couple of years.

Time spent on social media is largest within GenZ (4,3 h per day) but all other generations, even up to the baby boomers spend on average 2,5 h per day on socials.

Digital radio and podcasts
GenZ and Millennials listen to digital radio about half of the time and this has increased compared to previous years. Spotify is the absolute number one (93%), with YouTube and Soundcloud coming in 2nd and 3rd. Subscriptions are shared (Spotify Premium with a family account, like my sons have) or one “puts up” with advertising in the free version. All other platforms are negligible when it comes to time spent. Podcasts are relatively new and there is still room for growth amongst both generations (57% has listened to a podcast within a period of 3 months, men more than women, Millennials more than GenZ). Here, Spotify is also the number one platform. Advertising in podcasts hasn’t been researched before, and when asked this year, more than half of the young people hadn’t noticed any advertising.


It is obvious from the graph below that internet advertising is considered to be the most annoying of all advertising, with the mobile phone as absolute winner. As online video takes up a large part of digital advertising, it is significant to learn that when they can click away immediately, 91% of all young people hardly ever watch a video until the end. The same with skippable video (after 5 seconds, e.g. YouTube true view): 89% is being skipped at once. Of course, they take measures against unwanted advertising: adblockers are very popular. Almost 52% of all young people use one on their computer (and 19% on their mobile phone). There is a significant difference though between Millennials (more adblockers) and GenZ (less adblockers) and also between men (more) and women (less).

So, what is the future of online advertising for these generations, when the attitude towards advertising is predominantly negative, they hardly ever watch an (advertising) video to the end and they use adblockers half of the time? It is getting increasingly important to be relevant. Brands must match the content of their digital surroundings (81% of GenZ), and the platform that they advertise on. The younger people are, the more they see through the overload of messages brands throw at them and the more they dismiss it all. In this year’s results the role of influencers is looked into for the first time. A large majority of both generations has seen advertising by influencers (GenZ more than Millennials, and women more than men). GenZ recognizes advertising by influencers better than Millennials (75% vs 66%) When asked if they bought something after seeing advertising by influencers, approximately one third of all women answered this with ‘yes’. For a number of brands, Influencer marketing looks very promising, especially when they are advertising for GenZ women, but if you are a brand with a predominantly male audience, there’s still a lot of work to be done. There is a lot more information about these interesting generations, like what they do in their spare time, what they think about the environment and personal well-being. When you’d like to know more, do check the whitepaper that has been published about the research. You can download it via this link.

By Joan Hoekstra

Millennials research media usage
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