Millennials On Digital, Boomers On Traditional TV

According to Connected Life, a study of over 60,000 internet users worldwide from global research consultancy TNS, the average Millennial with internet access spends 3.1 hours a day on their mobile devices, the equivalent of 21.7 hours every week. That’s 1,128 hours or 47 days over the course of a year.

U.S. Millennials prioritize social over other forms of media, with 71% using social media daily, or 76% watching online video. This age group is also the most likely to adopt new buying methods, with 9% of U.S. millennials using mobile payment applications daily. They also continue to consume media in traditional ways (e.g. TV, radio) but with much lower frequency than older generations.

Traditional Media Consumption Among Online Adults (Hours/Day)

Device / activity

Boomers (46 -65)

Gen X (31-45)

Millennials (16-30)





Media consumption












   Newspapers & magazines




   Watching video and TV online




Social media usage




Source: TNS, November 2015

Focusing on how to use new channels to engage millennials can be an expensive distraction, says the report. By constantly trying to keep up with the most digitally advanced consumers, brands risk leaving behind other consumers who are also shifting their patterns of behavior, albeit at a slower pace, says the report.

For older consumers who are online, traditional media habits still hold strong with the 46-65 age group spending 4.3 hours each day watching TV, reading newspapers and listening to the radio; nearly three hours more than the average millennial (2.9 hours).

Yet older consumers are still a shifting target, and are using online platforms on a much more regular basis. Those online aged 46-65 spend 1.2 hours a day on their phones, while 42% use Facebook on a daily basis.

This dual pace in consumer adoption rates is creating a growing ‘digital divide’ that is most evident in Western markets, particularly the US, UK, Germany and France, leaving many businesses struggling with how they can tailor content for different audiences, says the report.

Kris Hull, Digital Lead of TNS Americas, says “… brands need to be wary of making sweeping assumptions about the digital habits of different age groups… Millennials are clearly an important demographic… Generation X and the Baby Boomers have higher disposable incomes… established buying patterns… and spending increasingly more time online… brands are often too focused on the need to market to their most advanced digital consumer… “

In today’s fragmented media landscape, Millennials are using even more platforms across IM, social and traditional channels. 55% of 16-30 year olds use instant messaging every day, up from 36% last year, while almost three hours a day are spent watching video on-demand and TV shows on the internet, says the report.

Hull concludes that “… brands… need to address two challenges… make sure they are focusing on content-driven, shareable campaigns that… cut through with this user group… and assuming that older customers can be easily targeted solely through traditional media… “

For more about the TNS study, please visit here.



1 comment about "Millennials On Digital, Boomers On Traditional TV".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 3, 2015 at 9:52 a.m.

    The problem with all of these self-reported studies is the validity of the "findings". While there is no doubt that, in general, millennials are more into digital than boomers, that's hardly news----nor is it very surprising. However, when we see that the average millennial reports only 24 minutes of radio listening per day while Nielsen's electronic PPM measurements would have us believe that the true figure is five times greater, that should be a warning sign for readers. Also, when millennials claim that they average only 1.8 hours per day watching TV when Nielsen's peoplemeters put out estimates at least twice as high or greater, this, too, should give us pause. If respondents are that far off in describing their radio and TV exposure why should we believe their claims about digital?

    I believe that it would help readers if, when such information is released, the kinds of comparisons, made above, with other---and probably more precise---research studies are at least mentioned and, perhaps, explained---if possible---by the authors of the study in question.

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