Silver Surfers Speeding UP

Research announced from the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) reveals that 68% of all European internet users aged 55 years and over now use broadband at their main point of internet connection and that broadband adoption amongst silver surfers is growing at a faster rate than the average European internet user (26% year on year growth compared to 14%). This increase in broadband penetration is leading to major changes in the way this older generation are communicating and spending their leisure time.

The EIAA Silver Surfers Report, the latest in the Mediascope Europe series, explores these changes and reveals interesting insights into their digital lifestyles.

This older demographic now spends an average of 8.8 hours online per week – a growth of 18% since 2005 – and 78% of the time they spend online is for personal reasons rather than work. One in four log on to the internet in a typical week and weekend use is growing at a rate of 19% year on year.

Online tools: No longer the domain of the young

The internet is quickly becoming a key communication tool for this generation and they are developing a much deeper level of involvement with online content. Use of online forums has seen significant growth of 113% since 2005, with 17% of silver surfers now regularly visiting these sites.

The research also dispels the myth that social networking is the domain of the young, nearly one in five (18%) visit sites such as MySpace and Bebo at least once a month – not that far behind the younger digital generation
(16-34 year old internet users), 28% of whom regularly access social networking sites.

Making the most of the convenience and costs savings of VoIP is becoming rapidly more popular with this older generation. 14% now regularly make calls over the internet, illustrating 100% year on year growth and further evidence that this group are becoming ever more tech savvy.

Silver surfers are also making the most of the entertainment available online. 21% now listen to the radio online, 7% have downloaded TV programmes and films – 40% year on year growth since 2005 and 7% are enjoying online gaming.

Taking a Trip

The research reveals the wide array of websites that the older demographic are using to enrich different areas of their life. Travel and holiday sites are particularly popular with this group – an indication of the increased leisure time and disposable income that this group enjoy. 60% visit travel sites and 55% visit holiday sites (7% and 6% higher than the
average European internet users respectively). Their research also
converts into purchases, with 47% having bought travel tickets online and 32% having bought a holiday online.

Using email and carrying out searches online seems to be second nature, with 83% regularly carrying out both activities. Keeping up to date with current affairs and news is also important, with nearly two thirds of silver surfers visiting online news sites (61%).

Not all Fun and Games

61% of users of all media aged 55 and over cite that the internet provides what they want quickly and saves time and more and more are carrying out some of their day to day tasks online. Over half (53%) of all of these users now use online banking and finance sites. 74% of internet users aged 55 and over have shopped online, buying an average of 7 items and spending €830 in a six month period; well above the average online shopper (€750). 38% are using price comparison sites and books (29%) and electrical goods (18%) prove popular online goods.

Alison Fennah, Executive Director of the EIAA says, “It is interesting to see the effect that increased broadband penetration is having on how silver surfers are communicating and spending their leisure time. There is huge growth in usage of online tools made popular by Web 2.0 and we expect this exponential growth to continue as the internet plays an even bigger part in the daily lives of this slightly older demographic.