UK lockdown widens generation gap in media consumption

Younger people turned in droves (79%) to digital media during the UK’s various lockdowns while the older generation reverted to mainstream media. 48% of all adults surveyed in the latest IPA TouchPoints report went digital with commercial TV and news brands (print) recovering ground from pre-lockdown surveys.

Not so surprising really: maybe 16-34 year olds (who were less prone to the pandemic anyway) tired earlier of Downing Street news briefings.

Interestingly Out of Home – hit hard by the pandemic and work from home in terms of revenue – remained high up the media list in terms of reach at 78%, only lagging live/recorded TV at 83%. Prior to lockdown its reach was 96%.

Online video has seen the most significant growth of any channel over the past five years and for the first time has commanded more time than recorded/live TV for 16-34s in Lockdown 2020 (at 18% of their total time spent with commercial media vs 14% for recorded/Live TV).

Despite the perceived rapid growth of subscription-based services such as Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ taking commercial media share, the share of total media time not funded by advertising has only increased from 34% to 38% in the five years from 2015-2020. this rose to 40% during lockdown 2020.

IPA senior research and marketing manager Simon Frasier says: “What is clear is that the lockdown has undoubtedly reinforced the dominance of key media for the different audiences and exacerbated the differences. This greater fragmentation of the landscape means the ability for a single commercial channel to deliver comprehensive reach to all adults has significantly diminished.

“A ‘one size fits all’ media approach is likely to be less effective than it was previously – with a mix of both digital and non-digital required for ultimate brand-building success.”

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.