Older consumers now spend longer on social media than reading newsbrands.

But the differences in how younger and older consumers are absorbing commercial media have widened dramatically over the past five years.

It may not come as a surprise to some, but different age groups now have very different patterns of media consumption and the gap is widening according to a report from the IPA in the UK titled “Making sense. The Commercial Media Landscape”

Stubborn media consumers

The commercial media landscape.

Of all the age groups, 55+ has seen the least change in commercial media behaviour since 2015. 

Whilst the shape of 55+ media consumption has remained broadly the same, there have been several small shifts. The weekly reach of Newsbrands (Print) has fallen by 20% (yet still reaches 53% of 55+ weekly), whilst Social Media and Commercial Video on Demand have increased by 17% and 48% respectively. 

click to download report

This means for the first time 55+ now spend on average longer on Social Media (9% media time) than reading Newsbrands (Print) (7% media time).

IPA: Making sense. The commercial media landscape

While total Newsbrands (Print and Online) take the same 9% share as Social Media. As with younger age groups, Commercial Live Radio has stayed consistent from a time spent perspective but has seen a small decline in overall weekly reach (-5%).

One size does not fit all

All this points to greater divergence in media absorption between age groups. Planners must avoid the trap of convenience when trying to reach the lucrative older consumers.

While we might argue for age-neutral messaging, one-size certainly does not fit all when it comes to media planning.