Make your online presence bridge the Digital Divide and the Generation Gap

digital divide


THUNDER BAY – Business – Back in the 1960s it was called a Generation Gap. Today in terms of how people view and use the Internet there is a ‘Generation Divide’ that has formed. That ‘divide’ is hitting not only in terms of how people are using social media, email, the Internet, but how they are using technology.

Younger generations are glued to their super phones and other connected to the ‘net devices. Older generations often can’t see what all the fuss is about. A teen who spends hours texting to their friends is likely to be seen by an older parent or grandparent as wasting time that they should simply go and talk to the person.

That technology ‘Generation Divide’ is impacting politics, advertising, and the media. Growing numbers of teens are adopting new technology almost as soon as they can walk. Hand an Iphone to a three year old and they will start using it. Hand one to your grandfather, and chances are they will not know how to turn it on.

Does that matter to your business? In a word, yes.

It can help to determine your marketing mix. For example if you are targeting youth, or seniors, or how to factor in the importance of social media, traditional media; newspaper, radio, television, or other advertising markets.

There is, in the product life cycle early adopters, and late adopters. When it comes to your business, and how you use social media, the Internet, and the newest technology you cannot afford to be too far ahead of the curve, and you absolutely cannot afford to be stuck way behind it either.

Perhaps the key is in testing different advertising tools, and seeing what works. The efforts should be more than a single test. It means developing a strategy and having measurable data to help make a more informed decision.

The business opportunity will likely be found in the rich meaty centre part of the proverbial bell curve. A dependence on any one medium is likely a path toward less success for your business.

Companies that lag behind, keeping their use of old ways too long are the ones not surviving. So too are the companies that get out too far ahead of the marketplace. Advertising can be the life blood of your business.

In the world of public relations, and marketing, there is a divide formed between the old ways and the new ways – the ‘digital divide’ is one that has ramifications for how industry leaders are viewing the changing status quo in promoting and advertising new products.

A study conducted at the University of Alabama found that “Industry professionals under the age of 36 ranked issues like improving professional image and measurement of communication effectiveness much higher than older professionals. Younger and lower-level survey participants also ranked issues of social responsibility, transparency and diverse cultures higher than top leaders. Conversely, more senior, established leaders emphasized dealing with the speed and volume of information, crisis management or employee engagement.

“Top-level leaders also rated the importance of digital media significantly higher than those at other levels, while practitioners who are typically more familiar with the application and implications of digital tools were more focused on “soft” skills or attributes — organizational culture, ethical orientation and work teams.

“Female respondents rated significantly higher than men all seven dimensions of leadership, and rated four significantly higher – vision, work teams, ability to form coalitions and organizational culture. On the top issues facing the profession, women rated all 10 issues higher than men, and eight of them significantly higher, or more important. Women were also more optimistic about the future of the profession in many countries”

I enjoy listening to old radio plays. They run online and on Itunes exactly like they did when they first aired.

Listening to the programs and the advertisements from as little as thirty to sixty years ago the strategies are very apparent, the goal has never changed. The approach and the technology has changed massively, the people equation remains the same.

The technology back then was far less than compared to modern technology. The announcer was often the person who read the ads on the show.

The ‘jingle’ to accompany the advertisement was often as important as the message. In many cases it was the entire message. Part of the goal then, as now is to get a portion of ‘mindshare’ so that when you thought of a product you would go there.

A classic might be the old A and W ads … remember ‘Let’s all go to A and W”?


“Let’s all go to A and W,

Food’s more fun at A and W,
We’ll have a mug of root beer
Or maybe two or three
The food’s just great and what variety!
So let’s all go to A and W,
I can taste it now, can’t you?
Hop in the car
(hop in the car)
Come as you are
(come as you are)
To A and W! 


For families, getting into their cars the kids would often start singing the jingle, and driving their parents to distraction until they finally relented.

Today, marketing is considered much more sophisticated. However the end game is exactly the same. Companies advertise to encourage consumers to make a purchase.

The tactics and strategies and the places the advertisements are placed all change with time. Something that is very apparent repeatedly over time is that young people are early adopters of new technology and new ideas. Older people are often content to stay with the technology that they are used to using. That is why as adults we still often really like the music and the overall styles we grew up with. It is likely where the idea of ‘comfort food’ those special meals your mother made can be where people go when they need a boost or reassurances.

If the target market is that ‘rich meaty middle of the bell curve’ then the combination of a ‘digital divide’ and the ‘Generational divide’ are likely to collide and cause more advertising dollars to be wasted rather than returning a solid response.

Making sure your advertising dollar works hardest to make you money, means taking the time to plan your strategy and make the most bang for the buck.

Some things to consider;

The ‘click-through rate’ or CTR for an online ad is not high, but in many ways is likely far more affordable per impression than a static print ad.

While that CTR might be seen as the only measure of success, the reality is that a solid online advertisement is the same as a print ad. Not all print ads, just like online ads, radio ads or even television ads are going to generate an instant response.

With the growth of online video, Digital Video Recorders (DVR) and super phone television broadcasts, the ability to skip commercials on television has increased.

You do not have to play ‘Follow the Leader’ all the time, but ignoring the direction that the overall marketplace is headed is likely a huge mistake. 

In Thunder Bay, we have witnessed the shift in technology as it impacted the forest sector, and specifically the production of newsprint. While some yearned and longed for a return to the success of the past, others forge ahead embracing new technology and new ideas. The future of your business, and the success of your business mean making a strategic decision that helps you succeed is more important than ever.

A sure key to success is to have an ever increasing share of an ever decreasing market.

James Murray
Content and News Director

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