Advertising paradox: brands ignore the elderly and focus on young people who ignore them 

Does advertising have an age problem? In recent years, advertisers have analyzed ads on this theme repeatedly. This doesn’t seem to be a new thing. These studies point out that ads aren’t exactly representative of the population.

When they do remember the elderly, they fall into clichés and biased images. The ads only show you as a certain kind of grandfather or grandmother when you hit certain birthdays. Consumers in that demographic group insist there’s more to them than those ideas, but there isn’t.

As the latest study on advertising and age just showed, the problem is much more complex, because the ads fail on so many levels. Advertisers don’t take into account what different age groups want. It doesn’t work with the elderly – who feel underrepresented – and the young – who don’t like ads – so nobody wins.

The elderly: what happens to them

Can you tell me what happens to each group? The elders aren’t in advertising. A System1 study for ITV, which includes Warc, just proved it. The study doesn’t really say anything new about advertising and older people, but it bolsters the data and shows advertisers aren’t changing the narrative. Even though over 55s make up a third of the population (the United Kingdom is used as a reference, because the study is based on British research), they only appear in 23% of television ads. Those over 55 are also the ones with the most buying power: they accumulate 60% of the country’s wealth.

We’re underestimating the key public of television audiences not only because it’s not realistic, but also because it’s not realistic. People over 55 watch TV the most. TV ads get 65% of the impressions. As a result, advertisers waste their money on an audience they don’t care about or represent.

There’s more to it when it comes to older audiences. Even advertising that talks about them has gender bias. According to the study, seeing a woman over 55 in ads is harder than seeing a man. These consumers also complain about how long television commercials are, how boring they are, or how generic the content is, although it’s worth wondering if their superior complaints are marked by the fact that they watch TV.

Y’all know what happens to young people

Despite focusing on the youth, advertisers forget that young people hate ads while forgetting about the old.

Millennials hate ads, according to an American study a few years ago. It even figured out when these consumers left social networks when they noticed they were being segmented excessively (56% admitted they did). They didn’t want traditional advertising: they wanted conversations with brands. 74% of millennials hate social media ads.

According to Bulbshare, Gen Zers want to avoid ads at all costs. Over half of people use adblockers to avoid ads. They’re overwhelmed by the amount of ads they see every day, and they feel bombarded (74% say so). It’s so tiring they don’t want one more ad.