Seniority On The Web: The Fastest Growing Online Population

One of the biggest myths about online advertising is seniors are neophytes. Is there an age gap on the ‘Net?

Let’s take a look at the online adult population as a whole. According to the latest data from The Harris Poll, fully two-thirds (66 percent) of American adults, or 137 million people, are now online. This includes over half (55 percent) of all adults who access the Internet from home; almost a third (30 percent) who access it from work; and nearly one in five adults who go online from a school, library, cybercafe or other location. Third found over the next 15 years, the 50-64 year-old market will grow 50 percent and the 65+ market will grow 32 percent. The 18-40 market will grow only three percent.

A new study, “The Truth About Brand Loyalty & The 45+ Market,” conducted by Roper ASW and released by AARP, says more than 93.7 million adults aged 45+ collectively hold over $750 billion in discretionary household income. AARP identifies three segments within this group. To reach each, marketers will need to take different approaches to match their needs, lifestyles and life stages. Here’s how the AARP defines these segments:

The Leading Edge of Baby Boomers (ages 45 to 56)
These consumers are in their peak careers years and juggling work and family. They have probably acquired many necessities and can spend on maintaining and improving their lifestyles.

The Gap Generation (ages 57 to 65)
These adults are maintaining their careers or making a transition to part-time work, volunteering or leisure activities. They’re asking themselves what kind of lifestyle they want for themselves, not for their families.

Life, Part 2 (age 66 and over)
This group is living through the freedom years with fewer family and work responsibilities. They’re experiencing a host of changes in lifestyles, work choices, leisure, housing, activities and interests.

What’s clicking with seniors? According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, this group is a solid 13 percent of the US population, but only four percent of the active (online in the past month) online population. Other Pew findings include:

This group mirrors the early Internet population:

  • About 60 percent are men.
  • Forty percent are women.
  • They’re more likely than their offline peers to be married.
  • They’re highly educated.
  • They have relatively high retirement incomes.


  • Many wired seniors are newcomers to the Web.
  • They’re more likely than younger Americans to be online on a typical day.
  • The most fervent wired seniors say the Web helps them better connect with loved ones and makes it easier get information they seek.

The five top uses of the Web by seniors:

  • using email
  • looking up hobby information
  • seeking financial information
  • reading the news
  • checking weather reports

This audience is growing. It should be closely watched by agencies and advertisers alike. Gearing a campaign toward online seniors? Remember, it’s about the experience.

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