Marketers’ picture of old generation is getting old

Monday, September 21

Google recently published the results of its annual survey of senior Americans’ online behavior. The outcomes show that marketers should forget about the stereotypes that technology is the prerogative of young people, and the older generation hardly uses the Internet.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 80% of Americans aged 55 and older use the Internet. In Russia, for example, this figure is much lower. Slightly more than 30% of seniors over 55 use the Internet on a daily basis.

Google, together with research company Known, conducted a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the older generation of Internet users. Seniors were segmented by their tech adoption and utilization. As it turned out, 86% of them spend at least 6 hours a day online and have an average of 5 devices. A study run by the Russian company Mediascope showed that in Russia, representatives of this age group spend an average of 2.5 hours a day on the Internet.

Online platforms help seniors stay informed and keep in touch

For the older generation, it became a necessity to communicate and find out the latest news via Internet. It became clear that the digital world is something that will stay with us forever, so seniors need to master it. Our grandparents don’t want to be “dinosaurs,” as said Jeff, the study participant. He is 59. The Internet allows seniors to keep in touch with their families, take care of their health and just keep abreast of events.

Why seniors turn to digital:

Why seniors turn to digital
Source: Google and Known, Digital Seniors, n = 4,415, US 55+ Survey, 2020.

Lockdown and social distancing have accelerated the adoption of new technologies. Seniors are now signing up for online consultations with doctors and surf the internet in search of video tutorials, and entertainment.

Older people are turning away from television in favor of the Internet

This trend is confirmed by the statistics of the Comscore company. The study found that between May 2020 and May 2021, YouTube video watch time among users aged 55 and older increased by 10%.

Marketers are used to reaching out to their older audience through print and TV ads. But now seniors can be spotted on the Internet more often. This means it’s time to take advantage of new advertising platforms such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube.

Many companies have already started to change their marketing strategy and move in the digital direction. For example, Aetna, an American medical insurance company, has increased its investment in digital marketing. Aetna noted that display, search and video ads have become effective platforms for advertising their services. And after the pandemic, their role only intensified. Gannon Jones, Aetna’s director of marketing, said the pandemic has forced many of their customers to go digital, and this trend will stay with us.

To reach the older generation of Internet users, you need to forget about the stereotype of grannies and granddads scared to press the wrong button and get nervous every time they go online. Ironically, this is already an outdated image.

Here are some helpful tips from Google for reaching older audiences online.

Analyze data and statistics, do not rely on stereotypes and intuition. Use Google Trends to see the real picture.

Find the right channels to communicate with your audience. To increase your brand awareness and readiness to buy, invest in the channels your potential customers are watching. For example, a Google survey found that older adults often watch YouTube.

Give preference to a narrow audience. To do this, use the set of intent to buy signals available on YouTube: Interested Buyer Audiences, Similar Audiences, Location, Recent Retirement. This will help you reach your most valuable customers.

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