Advertising on YouTube? Here's Why You Can't Afford to Ignore Baby Boomers

The media loves to talk about millennials: what they’re watching, what they’re spending money on, what new industry they’re about to destroy and so on. Advertisers are just as enamored with this generation too, as many believe millennials provide the biggest opportunity for revenue.

This millennial mindset extends to YouTube. Advertisers spend 156% more to target millennials than any other generation through YouTube campaigns, according to Strike Social’s “The Generational Divide” report, which examined a year’s worth of YouTube campaigns across 25 U.S. industries.

But by focusing their resources on millennials, advertisers are missing out on a huge opportunity.

That’s because baby boomers’ view rate (VR) on YouTube is actually 10 percent higher than that of millennials — and higher click-through rates indicate that these older folks are more engaged than other generations. To top it off, boomers also spend more, accounting for 48 percent of consumer expenses each year.



Among the key takeaways for advertisers:

  • A quarter (24 percent) of YouTube visitors are baby boomers.
  • Baby boomers are more likely to watch YouTube ads than are younger audiences.
  • Advertisers spend 137 percent more on Gen X than they do on baby boomers, despite the lower view rate (29 percent versus 31 percent, respectively).

So what can smart advertisers do with this information?

Understand What Resonates with Boomers

Boomers are obviously an audience to include, but you shouldn’t target them at random. Understand the industries they are most interested in to get the most out of your ad dollars.

Baby boomers were only a significant target in 56 percent of the 25 industry groups studied by Strike Social for this report. And out of these 14 industries, boomers had higher than average VR in 13. The industries that performed best (meaning they had the highest VR) with boomers included:

  • Household appliances (43 percent VR, compared to an average of 31 percent for other age groups)
  • Telecommunications (35 percent VR, compared to the average 32 percent)
  • Entertainment (33 percent VR, compared to the average 30 percent)
  • Travel (32 percent VR, compared to the average 30 percent)

In the era of advanced analytics, any amount of waste is inexcusable. Advertisers in these spaces are wasting money if they aren’t including boomers in their strategies — and others might be as well.

Aim for the Devices Where Boomers Engage the Most

It’s not just about what content boomers are viewing; it’s also about where they’re viewing it. According to Strike Social’s YouTube data report, desktop wins for visibility among boomers, while mobile drives higher engagement.

Desktop drove the highest VR among boomers, at 33 percent (compared to 29.4 percent on mobile and 30.2 percent on tablet). This channel also boasts the highest video completion (VCR) at 30 percent, compared to 26 percent on mobile and 27 percent on tablet. If your campaign is focused on visibility but not clicks, shift budget away from phones to computers.

That said, in terms of engagement, mobile is best. Mobile provides a higher click-through-rate (CTR) by view: 1.19 percent, compared to just 0.08 percent for desktop and 0.32 percent for tablet.

Target Wisely With AI 

No boomer is the same, and while it’s easy to cast wide nets with target audiences, a broad strategy is often a less effective one. A primary interest group of something like travel buffs is helpful, but it doesn’t take into account the nuances of each user or related interests. That’s where artificial intelligence in advertising comes in.

AI can use machine learning and advanced algorithms to pinpoint the best audiences for your campaigns. For example, your campaign aimed at travel buffs might be effective with related audiences, such as world news junkies and auto enthusiasts. This is difficult to narrow down without AI, which is more accurate, precise and can ultimately promise a higher ROI with your advertising dollars.

It’s easy to overlook baby boomers for their younger (and ostensibly more tech-savvy) counterparts, but this is a mistake. Boomers not only watch YouTube ads more often but also account for nearly half of consumer expenses each year. By ignoring boomers with your advertising strategy, you’re only leaving money on the table.

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