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  • Writer's pictureNina Franck

Planners, this is our Back to the Future moment

Media habits between old and young may be diverging, but the same planning mistakes are at risk of repeating themselves.



Media consumption is going back to pre-pandemic levels which also means that a difference in consumption between generations is seeing a bigger gap again like seen before the pandemic, according to the IPA’s latest TouchPoints analysis.

Maybe this was something to be expected. But while old consumption habits come back, now is the chance for media planners to resist falling back into old habits and applying stereotypes to their media planning.

Rather than us falling back into pre-pandemic behaviours we can use this as a chance to critically think about which audience you really need to reach (not the ones you would only like to reach), and, importantly, what the difference in media consumption means for your planning.

Go one or two steps further than just thinking about channels but look at how is each channel consumed offers very helpful pointers for your media planning. Are there differences for your specific audience?

I often hear that everything needs to be about Gen Z. But are these people your actual buyers? Are Gen Zers your only buyers? Or is your buying audience broader in terms of age?

Aren’t attitudes and interests more relevant in identifying your audience and running a multi-channel media plan more effective than a social/digital-first campaign that does not allow you to build up reach at scale?

See the worth in older generations. Do not dismiss a channel because it is just consumed by an “older” audience. Too often, many forget that older generations tend to have higher buying power and more disposable income.


Channel consumption does differ, but is not all black-and-white


Yes, younger adults use digital channels significantly more (80% according to TouchPoints). And yet, still, more than half (51%) of all adults consume digital channels; nearly a third of that (28%) is the over-55s.

While this is a significant difference, please think about the kind of channels younger audiences use. There are a lot of social media channels. and it is not wise to put all your eggs in these particular baskets. Effectiveness is much lower as in other, and often gone-digital, offline channels that are also consumed by younger audiences.

Do not fall into the trap of following stereotypes of media consumption while also discrediting the value of a broader or older audience and forgetting about effectiveness of channels.

Young audiences still consume non-digital channels (including OOH but appreciate consumption is the wrong term here) by 20% which often offer higher reach and effectiveness.

But with all that decline, remember those offline channels have gone digital and channels such as streaming and CTV that are relevant for younger audiences, too. Netflix and Disney+ introducing cheaper, ad-funded, subscription options for audiences with tighter budgets, will also be relevant to younger audiences, as the report points out.

It’s crucial to think carefully about the channel, its consumption, and its effectiveness of getting a message across and building up reach at scale. This is crucial for media plans and to grow a brand.

Otherwise you will hit a ceiling very fast and keep preaching to the converted.


This article was kindly published by The Media Leader on 16th March 2023:

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