Although 45-to-64-year-olds constitute 29.1% of the Web browsing community, less than one-third of them feel its content applies to them. Accordingly, Burst Media today rolled out Web sites organized into ad networks for non-adolescents.
Almost three-quarters of users aged 25 to 34 believe that online content is focused on people their age. The remainder, who constitute perhaps the brunt of the population, disagree significantly.
According to Burst Media's research, only 55.7% of Web users between the ages of 35 and 44 find online content to be focused toward their age segment, in comparison to 73.9% for those 25 to 34 and 76% of those 18 to 24. In addition, 77.7% of respondents 45 years and up said they believe online advertising is not targeted to them, either, and that it focuses on younger audiences instead.
It's to that latter segment that Burst Media today rolled out BabyBoomer Network, a series of Web sites organized into separate ad networks tailored to 45-to-64-year-olds. Together with the Family Builders Network, a set of sites geared to 25-to-45-year-olds, the BabyBoomer Network forms Burst's new Life Stages Network.
The introduction of LifeStages closely follows the results from a BurstMedia survey released last week which shows that only 35.4% of 45-to-64-year-olds -- and merely 18.9% of people aged 55 and up -- think that Internet content is "primarily focused on people their age."
On the other hand, 45-to-64-year-olds may represent 29.1% of the overall online community, but they deliver "tremendous spending power," according to Burst's research.
Alternatively, the Burst Family Builders Network addresses "milestones" that typically take place earlier in adulthood, such as getting married, buying a first home, and starting a family.
How are these age distinctions transparent to end users? Young parents, for instance, will land on a parenting site because they're looking for information about parenting, not because they're intentionally trying to access the Family Builders Network, Coffin illustrated.
Essentially, Burst outsources advertising for about 4,600 different Web sites, according to its CEO. None of these sites are owned by Burst. Instead, the sites are owned and operated by Web publishers of varying size.
"If you're a Web site trying to make a living, you might be located in Austin, Texas, or Des Moines, Iowa. Even if you're in the heart of Manhattan, you might not have the resources -- or the interest -- to go out and sell your own ads," Coffin maintained.
In most cases, Burst's relationships with Web site clients are non-exclusive. But with those belonging to LifeStages, Burst sells all of the ads and splits commissions with them 50/50.
Coffin readily conceded that tailoring content and advertising to age and other demographics is something that predates the Internet by a long shot. But due to the nature of the Internet, he said, demographic targeting can be much more granular. Furthermore, highly targeted Web advertising tends to be less intrusive than other types of advertising, and more useful to consumers.
In addition, he argued, it's a lot easier for Web users than TV viewers to simply go elsewhere if the advertising is objectionable or the content doesn't meet their needs.
At recent industry conferences, experts have focused on how paid advertising support is becoming increasingly important for "monetizing" (making money from) Web sites. During last week's P2P Market Conference in New York City, for example, several speakers contended that, generally speaking, users are only willing to pay for a very small percentage of the content available on the Web.