Once registered, you can:

  • - Read additional free articles each month
  • - Comment on articles and featured creative work
  • - Get our curated newsletters delivered to your inbox

By registering you agree to our privacy policy, terms & conditions and to receive occasional emails from Ad Age. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Are you a print subscriber? Activate your account.

What's this?
This content is created by an Ad Age Publishing Partner. Find out more about this program.

The Biggest Mobile Misconception

By Published on .

Credit: Shutterstock

Sure, every marketer knows that millennials love their smartphones. What they might not know, however, is that smartphones have become necessities for consumers 50-plus as well.

Just 29% of boomers owned smartphones in 2013 compared to 74% today. Current data also point to boomers spending a significant amount of time on their smartphones—nearly two-and-a-half hours a day. Plus, at AARP, we are seeing 40% percent of our site traffic coming through smartphones.

For many marketers, these stats may be surprising. Here's another: Consumers over 50 control 51% of all consumer spending and they stand to inherit $15 trillion over the next 20 years.

Couple this enormous spending power with the dramatic increase in mobile adoption, and it's essential that marketers immediately formulate a strategy for reaching these consumers on mobile. Some marketers already have.

Who Gets It?

One sure sign that marketers are waking up to the opportunity to reach consumers over 50 on mobile is that many telecoms are already doing so. Consumer Cellular, GreatCall and AT&T have been creating innovative and thoughtful campaigns for wireless services and devices for years. Most recently, T-Mobile joined the party with an unlimited plan aimed at customers over 55.

The bottom line is that if major telecom companies are investing in outreach to boomers, then it's clear marketers from a wide variety of industries can benefit from reaching this valuable audience. Boomers are ready and open to receiving marketing messages via their mobile devices.

With advertisers investing $36.6 billion on mobile last year and some projecting estimates as high as $86.64 billion by 2020, it's more crucial than ever to connect with the powerful boomer market.

Here are five key things marketers need to start doing now when targeting boomers on mobile:

1. Develop omnichannel campaigns. Research shows that boomers are the multichannel generation and will embrace a synergistic experience across media. For example, consumers over 50 tend to do research on their phones, but buy on their desktops. In addition, 72% of mobile activities trigger at least two follow-up actions or multichannel behaviors.

2. Create a cohesive message. From the overall campaign message to graphics and fonts, pay extra attention to coordinating campaigns that connect the dots across platforms. Consumers expect consistency from mobile devices to desktop and other media, such as print and TV.

3. Maximize mobile landing pages. Keep it brief, legible and actionable. Make sure the font size is big enough (16 pixels-plus) to be easily read. For mobile landing pages, ensure the page is lightweight (under 1MB total), so it loads in under four seconds. A top mobile-user action is making a phone call, so ensure that your full phone number is clearly visible. Or implement a click-to-call capability.

4. Provide discounts. Even though boomers control 70% of our country's wealth, they still love a bargain. Some 22% increased their use of mobile coupons in third quarter 2015, according to eMarketer. One way to improve this level of engagement is to use personalized push notifications on deals that will be of interest.

5. Communicate strategically. Be judicious in the number of communications sent to this audience. In general, it's best to send no more than one notification a day. If you ping them too much, they're likely to turn off those notifications.

What's Next?

Don't fall for the biggest misconception that boomers are not embracing mobile. They are. The time is now to connect with boomers, who not only love their phones but, most importantly, also like to reach for their wallets.

Most Popular


AARP Media has insightful knowledge of 50-plus consumers. With unparalleled access through multiple media channels, AARP Media Sales connects marketers to the ever-growing and influential 50-plus population. Reach this audience through AARP's trusted media properties, including AARP's digital assets, anchored by AARP.org; AARP The Magazine, AARP's lifestyle publication; and AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for Americans 50-plus. To learn more or reach a rep, visit advertise.aarp.org.
In this article: