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Mind the generation gap


In previous editions we discussed the importance for publishers to know their audience in order to create better and more suitable content. This is particularly important when dealing with different generations. Depending on their audience, publishers have to adapt their posts and advertising methods in order to catch their users’ attention. Different generations will react differently to online content depending on their format and message displayed.

Most online users will fit in one of the below generations:

  • Baby Boomers: Born after the second world war: +- 1946 – 1961
  • Generation x: +- 1961 – 1981
  • Generation y or Millennials: +- 1981 – 1995
  • Generation z: +- 1995 – 2010

In the US, 21 % of the population is part of the Generation X, 23% are Millennials and 22% are now part of the generation Z ( The Millennials generation has, for some time now, been at the center of marketers and marketing researchers’ attention but it seems that the focus starts shifting towards the new rising generation, generation Z. Generation Z represents 24% of the population in South Africa ( and in a few years will represent a very big portion of South African consumers.

These generations will be receptive to different marketing methods. Some baby boomers who are eager to adopt new technologies, will be reachable through online marketing methods, but it might be easier to catch them on Desktop through email or direct marketing campaigns.

Generation X has had to catch up with technologies as they were born in an analogue world, and were exposed to internet at a later stage in their life. However, it seems that they caught up quite quickly as a survey shows that 75% of this generation are routinely on Social media, and 60% are using a Smartphone daily. Discount vouchers, email marketing, SMS and Facebook campaigns seems to be quite effective with this generation (

The Millennials generation grew up with everything online. As per an article on, Millennials are “hyper connected. Almost half (45 per cent) use a cell phone/Smartphone and PC/desktop/laptop on a daily basis. More than half (55 per cent) of South African Millennials check a social media site, browse the web, use an app, and make a call/text on their phone more than 20 times a day.” It appears that Millennials are digitally savvy and loyal to brands that share their values. They know how to find information and need immediate answer and gratification.

Short and accurate content seems to be the best way to communicate with Millennials. They are very socially conscious and need to see that the brands they support are making a difference in the world. They also use different screens and publishers need to be able to follow them on all their devices. This means that all sites and content need to be mobile friendly. For this generation, interacting with brands on social media is very important. They want immediate answers and want to be listened to. As a publisher, you can take advantage of this if you have a good social media strategy in place and engage with them.

Generation Z follows the Millennials in their digital knowledge, but they grew up in an even more connected world. Most of them already have a digital footprint through their use of social media platforms like Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram. The big difference here is the social media platforms used. Generation Z prefers more private platforms and are less inclined to use Facebook or Twitter compared to their elders. Publishers need to adapt and move to these new social platforms if they want to be able to reach them.

People from generation Z tend to prefer images and videos above text. Video, Emojis, and gifs are used to communicate with friends. This means that the content will need to shift to more images and video instead of written content only. Like the Millennials, they are looking for content and brands that make a difference as they want to have an impact in the world that surrounds them. They are also more influenced by their peers than celebrities and like to visit sites like YouTube and watch videos created by their peers.

Multitaskers and quick to change, publishers and advertisers need to find highly relevant content in order to grab their attention before they skip to other sites. A lot of literature is available online on the different generations and as a publisher, reading and being aware of these differences will help you create content that speaks the language of your specific audience.

Caroline Pourteyron – Head of Operations

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