3 Ways Generational Differences Can Impact Your Local Media Campaign

millennial and baby boomer

Millennials and Baby Boomers represent two very influential generational groups that are vastly different in the way they process information and local media messages.

In a previous article, I discussed how Millennials are a unique generation that consumes media very differently from other generations. A new study by Nielsen, found Millennials and Baby Boomers to be neurologically hardwired to process information differently.

According to Nielsen’s recently released NeuroFocus research, neurological changes that come with increasing age, result in certain types of communication being more effective.  These neurological changes create some very real differences between the two generations.

1. Distraction

There are real changes to the brain that begin when a person reaches their mid-50’s, that causes their distraction suppression mechanism to be weakened, resulting in an aging brain that is more easily distracted.  With Boomers losing their ability to suppress distraction, advertisers need to take this into consideration when choosing media platforms and formats for campaigns targeting this group.

According to this research, Nielsen found that memory retention of static online ads was much stronger for Boomers than Millennials.  Similarly, Millennials were most stimulated by dynamic elements in the creative such as rich media, lighting or rotations that cut through their perception threshold.

Millennials can more easily deal with the bleeding-over communication we see in most dynamic banner ads, while older generations need a clear-framed separated communication to be able to engage.

2. Attention span

While both generations are heavy users of technology, the aging brain actually has a broader attention span and is open to more information than the younger brain, especially when presented in a simple manner.  The aging brain responds well to repetition and believes familiar messages to be true.

Millennials have very high multi-sensory processing capacity, which makes them very amenable to multi-sensory communications, especially with interaction such as search tasks and interactive websites.  The Millennial brain is more visual and more likely to be engaged by elements such as lighting or motion.

From an advertising perspective, it is important to tailor your message in fundamental ways to assure your message will be correctly processed.

3. Similarities

While there are many differences between Boomers and Millennials, there are also many areas where they are similar. Both Boomers and Millennials connect with messages, images and characters that they can personally identify with.

Additionally, both enjoy the use of humor in advertisements, but Boomers connect with clever, light-hearted humor, while Millennials are drawn to offbeat, often sarcastic humor. Recognizing these key differences between Baby Boomers and Millennials is critical when it comes to developing advertising that will appeal to both groups.


Linda Thomas

About Linda Thomas

Linda is the Director of Media Services at Sheehy+Associates, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. With over 25 years in the industry, there isn¹t much she hasn¹t seen or done with regard to media planning and placement on a local, regional or national level.

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