Before the Beyond: Understanding Seniors’ Changing Media Habits

by | Mar 8, 2022

As we explored ways senior living providers could “Plan and Pivot” in our last webinar, the conversation inevitably turned to technology. Principal and Chief Client Services Officer Lisa Pearre described it best when she said, “The new technologies we had to adopt in 2020 and 2021 are here to stay.” Few professionals have been better poised to observe just how much older Americans have embraced technology than those presenting in our next webinar: “Optimal Media Strategies for Reaching Prospects in 2022 … and Beyond.”

Back to the Beginning

Multi-Market Broadcast and Digital Strategist Ray Noone has been monitoring changing media habits since well before the pandemic. “I really started to notice a shift in media consumption with the onset of digital options about eight years ago,” he said. At that point, iHeartMedia was still Clear Channel Communications, and the number of iHeartRadio app downloads was increasing every day. “Radio is still the primary way we reach consumers, but once everyone adopted streaming technology through the app, we were able to bring in even more platforms and better target audiences.”

Although Regional Account Executive Chris Haenn  of Effectv has focused more on video trends than audio, he echoes Noone’s observations on timing. “Eight to ten years ago, we were continuing to use normal AM/FM radio and broadcast television. But then major content started coming out on other networks and streaming services that truly captured the viewers’ attention,” he explained. With respect to the combined media aesthetic of sight, sound and motion, Haenn noted that another perceptible shift occurred five or six years ago with the advent of on-demand programming. “Suddenly, the public was no longer tethered to the idea of watching TV on a set schedule. Everyone was able to consume the content they liked when they liked.” As a result, the marketing field rapidly evolved, with third-party data driving efforts to better identify key audience(s), understand what they need and, ultimately, how to reach them.

Senior-Specific Trends

With respect to seniors, iHeartMedia’s Division VP of Digital Sales Jessie Grenfell argues that we’re past the point of simply making assumptions about their media habits. “Beyond the shift in how this demographic is choosing to listen is the digital space that’s emerged. Its existence allows us to target people across multiple devices mid-stream,” she shared. This ability to interact with audience members, regardless of which device they’re using, has become crucial over the past two years. Device adoption—specifically with respect to smartphones—has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. Now more than 70 percent of Americans aged 55 and older regularly access content with this type of technology. Accordingly, we’ve seen more senior-centric channels emerge, such as Vivacious! When asked about the development of this option, Grenfell said, “We have a specific network built out called Vivacious! for adults 55+. Alongside the collection of engaging podcasts, we’re able to serve this demographic relevant information from advertisers.”

Media Director Evan Brown of Love & Company calls this concept “dynamic distribution.” Senior living providers now have the option to work with strategic partners to craft their messages and deliver them where they will be most impactful.  “With the data, we can take a custom approach for an active older couple or an adult child and ensure it reaches them. We also have campaign performance reports available in real time to show which advertisements are achieving optimal results,” he explained. To learn more about how you can tap into these resources and media strategies, view our webinar, “Optimal Media Strategies for Reaching Prospects in 2022…. and Beyond.”

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