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50-plus consumers are embracing the flexibility of connected TV

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Marketers should adapt their TV targeting strategies to take into account the changing habits of the high spending consumer segment.

Consumers aged 50 and above are rapidly changing the way they watch television, expanding their use of streaming platforms so they can enjoy entertainment on their own schedules.

As older consumers embrace connected TV (CTV) marketers have a new way to reach the critical segment which drives more than half of all consumer spending year after year.

Consumers 50-plus watch when they want to — not when a show airs

In the past decade — and particularly since the pandemic — consumers 50-plus have become increasingly savvy and independent users of technology, and their adoption of new and evolving tech advances has transformed their entertainment consumption.

Just one in seven believe it is very important to watch a TV episode live when it first airs, while 75% say it’s important to be able to watch shows at their own convenience. That translates into nearly 20 million fewer consumers aged 50-plus watching TV at the time of airing than they did just a year ago, according to MRI-Simmons.

TV consumption is often exploratory, as six in 10 consumers 50-plus say they often turn to their favorite streaming services or networks just to see what’s on.

Their ownership of connected TVs and devices has skyrocketed

Entertainment is a priority and often part of a social occasion as friends and family gather, and 50-plus consumers want to make the most of it. They are more than willing to spend their considerable discretionary income on products and services that meet their needs.

It’s not surprising that consumers 50-plus have upgraded their home entertainment systems since the pandemic: 62 million now own a CTV device such as Google Chromecast or Roku — twice as many (+104%) as before the pandemic — while nearly 58 million own a smart TV — up 43%, based on MRI-Simmons data.

They’re big into streaming and subscribe to several platforms and services

A majority of 50-plus households currently subscribe to one or more major streaming services. In all, two-thirds of 50-plus households (65%, or nearly 43 million) do so. In the past year, these households have driven significantly more subscription growth for major streamers than younger households, a trend that’s expected to continue.

Since the pandemic, 15.3 million more 50-plus households subscribe to one of the top three streaming services — more than three times the growth among 18-49 households, according to MRI-Simmons Winter 2023 and GfK MRI Fall 2019 data. And in the past year, 50-plus households were responsible for half or more of the net growth in new subscriptions for seven of eight major streamers.

Successful marketers are adapting to the shift: CTV ad spend has increased by nearly 400% since 2019, according to Insider Intelligence and EMarketer, and is expected to climb to nearly $41 billion in 2027, representing an ever-greater share of total TV ad spend.

The challenge for marketers, as always, is to maximize return on investment by effectively targeting high-value prospects.

As opportunities among 50-plus consumers continue to grow, marketers can stay connected and build relationships by adopting a more personalized targeting strategy, using a range of contextual, demographic, geographic, platform, device and even custom targeting approaches.

Mark Bradbury is VP of research and insights at AARP Media Advertising Network

AARP Media Advertising Network
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This article originally appeared in Campaign US.