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How to Bridge the Generational Screen Gap

Millward Brown Digital found that while younger audiences consume less TV than older generations, the majority of consumers across all generations still rely on laptops or PCs. The study, which was cited in AdAge, also found that “for low-attention tasks, audiences prefer smartphones, but that as the amount of time spent on a task increases — usually after a five-minute threshold — so does laptop and PC usage for all groups. Screen size and speed were the biggest determinants of screen preference across generations.”

The author suggests ways to take these nuances into consideration in creating digital campaigns:

  • Understand the audience your marketing is reaching by more than just demographics. “For ads in which the visual attributes are more important (think retail, consumables or auto), advertising targeted to tablets can be very effective in boosting awareness and brand favorability, because the overall quality and display of the product being advertised is bigger and clearer. That same ad on a smartphone will have to be cut down and resized, and its impact will be different.” These findings can be used to sequence ads to achieve the brand’s objective — for example, start on a tablet to build awareness, then follow up with laptop ads to allow a consumer to compare features, then close with mobile ads to drive in-store behavior.
  • Optimize messaging across screens based on audience and generational screen preferences. For example, “a hyper-local ad that requires a lower level of attention and research, such as an ad for clothes or apparel, may be better served on a smartphone where younger audiences like millennials are almost as likely to shop for clothes and apparel on a smartphone (35%) as on a laptop (37%).” On the other hand, boomers are more like to do research for financial services on a laptop than a mobile phone.
  • Consider how screen preference influences the consumer journey. “For example, millennials’ use of smartphones and PCs for consumer packaged goods purchases is almost identical (39% of millennials have used laptops or PCs for CPG purchase and research, and 37% have used smartphones). However, for a higher-investment product, like consumer electronics, 36% have used their laptops v. 27% who have used smartphones.”



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