Learn which mediums to advertise on based on the generations of your target audience, whether they’re baby boomers, Generation Xers, or millennials.
With so many advertising options available — from podcasts to Facebook and Google and outdoor ads to radio and television — it can be challenging to know how much to invest in each specific media.
Also known as your media mix, finding the right formula can make all the difference between a profitable, money-generating campaign and a campaign that drains your resources.
Every customer segment has specific buying and media habits.
It’s essential to use the right media mix and not waste precious dollars on advertising that will not deliver.
By knowing who you need to reach with your advertising message, your advertising agency or marketing partner can know where to go to get their attention and how to reach them.
Here are examples of the right media mix to use based on the media use of your target audience’s generation.
The Right Media Mix for Each Generation
1. Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964): Traditional TV, radio, and social media
2. Generation X (1965 to 1980): Live and streaming TV, radio, and social media
3. Millennials (1980 to 2000): TV, streaming video services, social media, and streaming radio
1. Baby Boomers: Traditional TV, Radio, and Social Media Advertising
Nielsen reports that 70% of the disposable income in the U.S. is controlled by baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964.
Boomers spend the most across all product categories, including:
- 49% of sales in consumer packaged goods
- 45% of sales in apparel
- 45% of sales in entertainment
- 44% of sales in transportation
- 43% of sales in personal care
- 43% of sales in food
- 43% of sales in health care
- 42% of sales in housing
If baby boomers are your target customer base, then you should consider their media choices.
Baby Boomers Still Watch Television
Television is still a viable way to connect with baby boomers, as they watch TV for an average of 3 hours per day.
In addition, 80% of baby boomers prefer to watch shows on their TV over any other medium.
TV ads still work to target baby boomers, as they spend more of their time on traditional networks than any other generation.
Baby Boomers Are Social
According to Statista, more than half of U.S. baby boomers use social media.
The most popular social media channels among baby boomers are:
- YouTube (70%)
- Facebook (68%)
- Pinterest (27%)
- LinkedIn (24%)
- Instagram (23%)
- Twitter (17%)
Baby boomers are also 19% more likely to share content on Facebook than any other generation. This means that not only are you reaching your targeted consumers on Facebook, but they are also sharing it with outer potential customers.
Just because baby boomers aren’t known for their social media use doesn’t mean businesses should ignore targeting this generation on social media, especially on YouTube and Facebook.
Radio Still Rules for Baby Boomers
According to Nielsen RADAR, radio reaches 98% of baby boomers each month.
In addition, baby boomers listen to the radio for an average of 15 hours or more per week, the most of any generation.
Boomers’ interest in radio could be because they are still working: 20% of Americans older than 65 still work. These people work into retirement not because they have to but because they want to.
Radio is an excellent medium to reach people in their cars during a commute. Position your ads Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and to 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to maximize drive-time results and reach the most baby boomers during their commutes.
Use This Media Mix for Baby Boomers
If your target audience is made up of baby boomers, consider using this media mix:
- Primetime and weekend television
- Radio on news/talk, oldies, and adult standard stations Monday to Friday from 6 a.m.to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. during their commutes
- Facebook and YouTube
Advertising on TV, radio, and social media will help you reach the most baby boomers possible and keep their attention.
2. Generation X: Radio, Traditional and Streaming TV, and Social Media Advertising
Generation X is also known as The Baby Bust generation and latch-key kids because it was very common for both of their parents to work. They were born between 1965 and 1980.
This generation comfortably moves between traditional media and digital media and enjoy both.
Radio Remains a Force of Influence for Generation X
According to Marketing Charts: “Gen Xers are most likely to say they are exposed to multiple radio ads throughout the day. These ads seem to be breaking through the clutter, as Gen Xers were also more apt to say they’ve noticed a specific advertiser in the previous week when listening to radio.”
Radio is an important medium to Generation Xers, and advertising on that medium works.
Live TV Is Still the Preferred Method for Generation Xers, but Many Are Cutting the Cord
Nearly two-thirds of Generation Xers’ first source of TV viewing is live TV (62%), and about 53% use the DVR. They prefer movies and dramas.
However, 51% of Generation Xers have considered “cutting the cord” the past 12 months. This means that Generation X is starting to stray away from live TV in favor of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu — 64% of Gen Xers have a subscription to a streaming service, and 80% of this generation binge watches shows.
Businesses hoping to reach Generation Xers can benefit by advertising on both live TV and streaming platforms.
YouTube and Facebook Are Important to Generation Xers
About 75% of Gen Xers use YouTube, and 74% use Facebook. These two social media channels are especially important to Generation Xers, and businesses would be foolish to not be visible on these two platforms, too.
Social strategy is critical for this target audience.
Use This Media Mix for Generation X
If your target audience is made up of Generation Xers, consider using this media mix:
- Radio during their commutes from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Both live TV and streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime during movies or drama shows
- Social media platforms, especially YouTube and Facebook
Generation Xers are multi-taskers, so make sure your digital strategy supports your broadcast strategy with matching offers and creative.
3. Millennials: TV, Streaming Video and Radio Services, and Social Media Advertising
Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are the most unique generation compared to their predecessors, so their media mix is the most varied.
The majority of millennials (81%) made a purchase because of an advertisement within the last 30 days. If your target audience is millennials, advertising is necessary. Younger generations also trust advertising more: 55% of millennials trust advertising, compared to 44% of baby boomers.
Simply put, advertising works on millennials.
Millennials also spend 18 hours a day consuming media. This means that you must advertise on a variety of mediums to appeal to them.
Millennials Still Watch TV
According to a study from the Video Advertising Bureau, millennials have a strong emotional investment in TV — even more so than other generations — and 50% of their time watching videos is on TV.
In addition, 20% of millennials’ time watching videos was on an internet-connected device, 14% was on a game console, and only 9% was on a smartphone.
Screen size is still important to millennials, and TV isn’t dead to them.
Millennials Stream Video
Although TV is still important to millennials, 72% use a free streaming service, which includes YouTube and Hulu, and 60% use a subscription streaming service, such as Netflix and premium Hulu.
Half of millennials (50%) also watch an online video at least once per day.
This means that you must consider video advertising not just on traditional TV but on streaming channels as well.
Millennials Frequent Social Media
As we all know, social media is where millennials spend much of their time — more than 90% of them are active on social media, and 42% say that social media is the most relevant advertising channel to them.
In addition, 58% of millennials say that online and social media advertising influences them to make a purchase, compared to 47% of Generation Xers and 22% of baby boomers.
Social media advertising is a necessity to reach a millennial audience.
Millennials use a variety of social media channels, not just Facebook and YouTube like the older generations. Millennials use the following social media channels at least once per week:
- Facebook (87%)
- YouTube (86%)
- Instagram (71%)
- Snapchat (52%)
- Twitter (42%)
- Pinterest (42%)
Your social media advertising strategy should focus on several channels to have the most impact.
Millennials Use the Radio — Just Not Traditionally
Like Generation Xers and baby boomers, millennials frequently listen to the radio. But unlike the older generations, 71% of millennials use personalized radio stations such as Pandora and Spotify.
If you want to advertise to millennials on the radio, you’d be smart to advertise on a music app, rather than a traditional AM or FM station.
Use This Media Mix for Millennials
If your target audience is made up of millennials, consider using this media mix:
- Live TV, especially traditional series and sports
- Streaming video services such as Netflix and Hulu
- A mix of social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
- Personalized streaming radio stations such as Pandora and Spotify.
Millennials use the most media, so use a variety of mediums for your advertising to have the most impact on them.
Find the Right Media Mix for Your Customers
There is usually an 80/20 rule when it comes to your specific customers: 20% of your customers likely bring in 80% of your profits.
Define who that customer is as much as you can. That is called your primary target.
In an article by Steffani Cameron on Bizfluent, she writes: “The primary target market is the group of consumers a business covets the most or feels is most likely to be the purchaser of its product or service. The secondary target market is the next market that most appeals to the company.”
Once you identify your target customers and the media they use, you can lock in your advertising mix to get the best ROI.