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Recently, we conducted a study on how younger audiences are using social, from their favorite apps to their posting habits. In fact, you might have heard us mention it before. Like in this post here or here. Our State of Social Video report has taught us a ton about what brings younger audiences to social, and we love digging into the data to unpack our findings and translate what it all means for marketers.

Lean in to Laughter

Does your brand have a funny bone? That could be a big advantage on social. Our study shows that Gen Z and Millennials prefer funny or humor-driven ads over other creative characteristics, such as celebrities or good music. In fact, in the US, a whopping 47.8% of audiences would rather see ads that make them laugh instead of ones that tell a compelling story. 

Given that laughter both boosts happiness eases stress, this should come as no surprise. In fact, laughing is three times more effective at reducing anxiety than some methods of relaxation, such as meditation or calm music. Why? Because, in addition to activating parts of the brain used for language processing, humor also stimulates reward centers such as the amygdala. That’s the part of the brain responsible for releasing dopamine, which makes us feel (you guessed it) happy.  

Look Good, Feel Good

You know what else makes Gen Z and Millennials happy? Beauty. Next to humor, aesthetics were a highly influential creative element in social ads. Crazy enough, it turns out that similar regions of the brain that are activated by humor (i.e. the ones that make us feel happy!) are also activated by when appreciating beauty. Turns out we’re wired to like funny, beautiful things and our data reiterates this.   

Too Much of a Good Thing?

However, no matter how funny or beautiful your ad is, excess repetition will undo all your good work. 40.2% of our study respondents said the more frequent an ad is present in their news feed, the more it annoys them—so much so that it impacts their affinity towards the brand.

It turns out, you really can have too much of a good thing.  Activation of the region that registers humor and beauty, a.k.a the amygdala, is greatly reduced by the repetition of any experience.

What does all this mean for marketers? Try adding a little humor to your ads. Or, if cracking jokes doesn’t vibe with your brand, remember that beauty will hook your audience as well. And don’t forget to keep it fresh! Your KPIs will thank you.


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