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Reaching the Senior Audience in the Age of Media Fragmentation

Technology, while advancing at an ever-increasing rate, is driving new ways for audiences to access content, creating a highly fragmented media landscape.

As the number of available media outlets continues to grow, the number of people advertisers can reach with any one tactic becomes smaller.

This means that advertisers now have a much more difficult task in figuring out how and when to reach their target audience. Mass media alone is no longer the best bet.

While the 65+ audience are still heavy users of print and television, they’re the fastest-growing segment with regard to the use of digital technology. The most recent Scarborough media consumption data is starting to indicate these shifts. For 2015, 74% of adults age 70+, nationwide, with an annual household income of $50k or more reported some newspaper use.Yet roughly 78% of that same group reported that they use the internet, and a majority of these users are reporting time spent of more than 1 hour per week. This shows that affluent seniors are not only using the internet but that many of them are adopting it as a go-to resource.

This doesn’t mean that mass media channels are “dying.” They’re simply evolving out of necessity. For example, the print industry was built around the audience’s desire to consume content. This desire for content remains to this day. Yet print media is currently experiencing year-over-year declines in the number of total printed daily newspapers (the count has dropped 7% since 2012). The digital channels simply allow the audience access to the same content in a faster, nearly real-time way.  Because of this and other factors such as the green movement, the industry has evolved with the marketplace and has updated their system for delivery.

TV has undergone a similar, yet less noticeable, shift as well. The average U.S. cable household subscribes to over 180 channels (a 46% increase since 2008). However, while the subscribers are paying for all these channels, they only consume content from about 1% of them. With the rise of streaming video providers such as Netflix and Hulu, along with social media channels such as Facebook becoming increasingly popular for video consumption, many consumers are starting to question the need to retain their current cable packages and, more specifically, their premium price tags. Delivery methods have been altered from analog to digital signals, and while viewers can still consume their favorite programming (video content) in front of a television, they can just as easily do so on a tablet, smartphone or computer via a plethora of websites. Missing your favorite show within a TGIF lineup is simply no longer a thing.

This evolution across the entire industry has created fragmentation and thus a new status quo ‒ a drive toward an audience-first approach to planning versus a channel-first approach. Messaging and content strategy needs to be placed at the forefront of the planning process, and the media plan needs to focus on reaching individuals across multiple touchpoints to tell a story and ultimately drive conversions.

Advertisers must consider all channels and how they work together. Predetermined content should be woven throughout your plan in ways relevant to each tactic so that it will be meaningful and not simply seen as “noise.”

Quick, shot-in-the-arm tactics to meet a specific objective can still be effective, but it’s important to consider how they fit within the overall customer journey. Moving forward, this audience-first approach is imperative, as no single tactic will be solely responsible for meeting your marketing objectives.

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