Huh? NBC–Yes NBC(!)–Argues to Madison Ave. That 55 to 64 is the New 18 to 34

Nov 3, 2010  •  Post A Comment

NBC will begin a new pitch to advertisers, media agencies and Nielsen officials on Thursday, and it goes something like this: the 55 to 64 year-old demographic is the new 18 to 34 year-old segment, reports our friend John Consoli in Mediaweek.

NBC is trying to argue that the segment of older viewers is at least as important as the younger demographic, the story notes. Allen Wurtzel, president of research and media development at NBCU, calls the older demographic the "AlphaBoomers," and says it’s "been largely ignored by advertisers and marketers."

"Every seven seconds someone turns 55 and once they do, they are eliminated from the highest end Nielsen demo measurement: 25-54," Wurtzel says. "It is the fastest-growing demo group in the country and now numbers 35 million people that account for close to $2 trillion in annual spending.”

For years NBC executives have argued quite vigorously that the only demo that matters, from an ad sales point of view, is 18-49.

NBC’s new goal is to start a discussion among chief marketing officers and to get get Nielsen to begin offering ratings data for the 55 to 64 year-old segment. Nielsen’s current age demo ratings groups stop at 54, an approach that Wurtzel says was "invented 50 years ago" and is "outdated."


  1. It sounds to me like someone in the sales department at NBC just turned 55.
    But it’s hardly a surprise. Having been born at the highest height of the baby book (1957), I knew it was just a matter of time before someone figured out I was still a demo worth reaching. And they still had 18 months to go!

  2. Well DUH. A.F.T. someone realized that the age group with the most disposable income was worth something.

  3. So true! NBC is on the mark – advertisers need to focus and follow the money – we boomers are going out with a scream!
    P.S. Keep ‘Community’ the best show on TV on the air NBC! If not, bye bye Comcast and hello Directv!

  4. I don’t think anybody’s ever disputed that the 55+ demographic has loads of disposable income or argued that they don’t buy products. The problem is, in general, the older you get, the more immune to marketing you get.
    The cost in money, time & effort it takes to get someone 55+ to change their buying habits is enormous compared to the 18-34 demo. The older you get the more savvy you get and the less likely you are to fall for the latest whiz-bang marketing hype. The younger demo preference is really just a low hanging fruit preference.
    The only time you get around the above is when you’re marketing a truly new and groundbreaking product…But, be honest with yourselves, how often does that come along? The marketing industry would be awfully small we had to rely strictly on marketing truly innovative products.
    Add to all of this the upside of changing an 18-34 y/os buying habits. Hook them on your brand and you get 40-70 years of sales. Hook somebody 55+ and your only looking at 20-30 years.
    I wish NBC much success in this endeavor but if I were a media buyer, I wouldn’t buy it ;~)

  5. Man, I was all ready to jump in and say what Scott and Mike said above. Then Art chimed in, and reality struck. I think you nailed it, Art. You convinced me. I’ll shrink back into my ageing-man cave and continue to not be suckered by New Yorkers in $3000 suits.

  6. It’s about time! I just turned 54 and an’t stand much of the crap that passes for programming on TV. Perhaps now, they’ll ask people like ME what I like to watch. Had they done so, the new ‘Hawaii Five-O’ might have turned out quite differently.

  7. @Art. That argument gets so old. C’mon do you really believe you can hook someone at 20 and have them until they are 60? Brands don’t survive 5 years anymore much less 20+. If this were true then my wife would be out buying a new Oldsmobile and I would be running after a Plymouth like my dad and buying a nice RCA Victrola to play my 45s on.
    I once gave a seminar on the 18-49 yo demo in front of 200 people and I held up an Amex card. I asked people what it was. They knew it was an Amex card. But what I said was it represented the only thing true about that sacred demo. My daughter was 18 in college and I was 49. And this was the only thing WE had in common. My Amex card. And that meant the next year they would go after Nicole who was living off me and ignore the one who actually had the money.
    And BTW. I just looked at a Lexus. Funny, huh, they didn’t exist when I was a kid. How did I ever make that switch? God knows I should be buying a Cadillac because I learned 40 years ago that meant luxury.

  8. Don’t disagree with the logic. But I also find amusing the headline of the article. That it’s, of ALL networks, NBC making this argument. The network that for years boasted about it’s 18-49 ratings and how total viewers at CBS or any other network that regularly beat them didn’t matter. So, is it that they care about this demographic all of a sudden and actually believe what they are saying? Or is it that their ratings suck and they’re trying to change the game? They’ve been so mismanaged they’ll now tout anything. If they are lucky, the rumors about Bob Greenblatt are true and they’ll hire themselves a first rate programmer and turn it around and create a REAL “Event”.

  9. I didn’t become a millionaire until I was past 54. I’ve now got a couple of million more. I can buy things I didn’t even think of buying when I was younger. Kids are gone and don’t have to support them. Now I buy for the wife and myself but even more so for the grandkids. When I was younger, I might have been swayed to buy a product but didn’t because I couldn’t afford it. Now I can. Having lots of disposable income is great. But if the advertisers want to ignore me, and all the other 55+ people with lots of disposable income, it’s their loss.

  10. Shouldn’t this be CBS’s argument? I’m sure they’re happy that NBC is taking it on instead of them though

  11. What the media has ALWAYS failed to remember is the fact that the older demographic continues to give money to the youngsters they so lust after (even before the economy took a header). Now more than ever with more kids coming back to live with their parents because of the economy, who do you think holds the purse strings and has more money?? And the younger generation has a shorter attention span, do you think they honestly develop brand loyalty if they see something else they like better, they’ll jump brands in a hot minute.

  12. I for one am looking forward to seeing lots more commercials for Depend and Poli-Grip.

  13. @ K Dogg
    Clearly, you’re not IN the 55+ demo. We baby boomers are still in the full prime of life, not packed off into retirement homes.
    I’m not buying Poli-Grip and Depends. I’m buying computers, AV gear, clothes, furniture, a new car — and everything my three-year-old daughter needs. Yes, us old boomers even have little kids.
    Wise up, Mad Ave.

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  16. Baby boomers were raised on the tube (especially the 3 big networks). Old habits die hard. They still gravitate to the tube. Whereas GenXers and younger hang out on the net. It’s a no-brainer to create programming (and sell age appropriate ads) to that loyal audience, 78 million strong, who are not at all like their parents and grandparents. They ski, travel, buy luxury cars and organics, they decorate, eat out a lot and are a goldmine to the pharmaceuticals. Madison Avenue needs to catch up.

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