Online Ad Preferences Vary by Age; Discounts Appeal to Everyone

March 20, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Email | Europe & Middle East | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Though younger internet users prefer entertaining online ads and older users want to see relevant and useful ads, consumers of all ages are interested in ads that promise freebies and discounts, according to (pdf) a survey by Lightspeed Research and the UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau.

Findings from the survey reveal that overall, consumers want ads that are relevant, useful and offer discounts. However, there are key differences among age groups that marketers should consider when developing creative executions, IAB UK said.


Key survey findings:

  • Younger audiences want freebies and entertainment: Those between the ages of 18 and 35 are generally more interested in special offers, the entertainment factor and exclusive information within advertising.
  • Older audiences want practical: For 45-54-year-olds, ads need to be more relevant and useful to make an impact.
  • Money off appeals to everyone: While money off particularly appeals to 18-35 year olds, the recession is making people of all ages more likely to be looking for ads that promise discounts.
  • Consumers of all ages want online advertisers to understand their needs and devise their creative executions that are appropriate to them.

‘Traditional’ Types Most Recalled

Most respondents in the survey say they have been exposed to the more ‘traditional’ forms of online advertising, such as sponsored links, banners and emails. They also report that these ads were most likely to have generated click-throughs, the survey found. In fact, every age group surveyed chose sponsored links in a search result and advertising within a page as the top two formats for sparking their interest to click through to the advertisers’ website.


The research also found that newer forms of online advertising are gaining ground, with ads using sound and video, widgets, in-game advertising and free gifts on Facebook proving to be effective approaches. In particular Facebook gifts and branded applications online are especially effective with 18-24-year-old respondents: 29% had seen and sometimes interacted with an ad from either Facebook or branded content across various other social networking sites

Email advertising is particularly effective for those over age 25, IAB UK said. One-third (34%) of 25-34-year-olds say they have seen and sometimes clicked on an ad from an email.

“The research finds that even though not all consumers click on ads, they are now fully acquainted with most forms of advertising online, with the majority having been exposed to most internet ad formats,” said Sorcha Proctor, research manager for IAB UK.

Other results from the same study, which were previously reported on MarketingCharts, reveal that consumers are most receptive to online ads in the evening.

About the survey: The survey was conducted on Lightspeed Research’s UK online panel between November 28 and December 8, 2008. There were 5,022 respondents.

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