IPA’s Making Sense report uncovers the generational differences in media use

Newsworks’ data insights manager Zainab Pirzada attended the third edition of IPA’s Making Sense and shares her learnings.

The third edition of IPA’s Making Sense: The Commercial Media Landscape took a look at the evolution of Britain’s commercial media landscape over the last 15 years, from 2005 to life under lockdown in 2020 and beyond.

We all know the way we consume media has changed. Whether you’re listening to weather updates on your voice activated device, watching a movie on your laptop or reading the news on your mobile phone – the media landscape is more crowded and complex than ever before.

But what impact has the lockdown had on our media behaviour? We know from our recent World Without News study that since the start of the pandemic, 77% of under 35s say that they value the importance of journalism more in our society, with 68% agreeing that a world without journalism would harm democracy.

IPA’s report shows that although the media landscape is evolving, with consumers spending more time with digital rather than non-digital channels, their needs are still relatively constant. What’s particularly interesting is how different age groups have adapted their media habits during the pandemic, particularly the 16-34s and the 55+.

Simon Frazier, senior research and marketing manager at the IPA, said: “As the country went into Lockdown, across all audiences, the desire for trusted, reliable news content was substantial. For 16-34s, as we see more and more of their media consumption shifting to digital, and online news brands deliver substantial reach and scale for this audience.

“The Lockdown seemed to push audiences further towards the media they were most comfortable with, and when looking for trusted news to tell them what was going on, for 16-34s they turned to digital news brands, while for 55+ the physical tangible nature of news brands in print clearly provided the comfort they desired.”

The report shows that there has been a significant drop in the correlation between how 16-34s and 55+ spend their media time, from 58% to just 8% in five years. 79% of commercial media time for 16-34s is spent with digital media (up from 59% in 2015), compared to 48% for the average adult – strongly hinting to advertisers that the ‘one size fits all’ approach is no longer going to work.

16-34s still want news content just as much as 55+, but they want it delivered in a way that’s convenient for them, usually on their mobile phones. Whereas for the 55+, physical newspapers and tv screens seem to fit better with their lifestyles. Showing that although the delivery methods might be diversifying, we still feel like we want and need the same things.

The IPA Making Sense report tells us that the changes in our media behaviour are less about the death of one media but more about consumer evolution in line with technological advancement and convenience.

Brands that want to succeed in the long-term need to think device-first across all age groups. For ultimate brand-building success, media plans need to diversify to include a healthy balance of both digital and non-digital assets.

You can download the full report here.


Want the latest news, opinion and insight on news brands?
Sign up and we'll send you a weekly update.

Sign up here

Get in touch

3rd Floor
3 Marshalsea Road

0203 949 7470


Keep up to date

Please take a minute to answer a few questions on our new website. The feedback you provide will help us make the website easier for you to navigate and ensure you can find the content you’re after. In addition, we’ll enter you in to a prize draw for a £100 Amazon voucher*.

Take Survey Not now Never