How Multiple Generations Consume Online Content (STUDY)

As online audiences become more a more diverse, more and more marketers are creating content that resonates with their customers. When studying online behaviors, the attention has always been focused on the millennial generation. Millennials have a reputation for spending a majority of their time searching for and consuming news online, and for being extremely out of touch compared to other generations. However, Millennials are expected to surpass Baby Boomers in 2015 as the largest living generation. In order for marketers to stay competitive, marketers need to realize the distinctions and similarities of Millennials compared to other generations.

Fractl and Buzzstream teamed up to survey over 1,200 individuals and segmented their responses into three different generational categories: Millennials (born between 1977 – 1995), Generation X (born between 1965 – 1976), and Baby Boomers (1946-1964). Here are the most interesting takeaways from this study:

1. Baby Boomers Consume the Most Content

However, Baby Boomers like to consumer the content earlier in the day than the other two generations. Over 25% of Baby Boomers spend more than 20 hours per week consuming online media, much more than either millennials or Gen-X users. Other takeaways:

  • A majority of Millennials and Gen-Xers (22%) consumer closer to 5-10 hours of content consumption per week.
  • Less than 10% of Gen-X users consumer less than 5 hours a week, the lowest of all three groups.


  • While Baby Boomers prefer consuming content early in the morning (5:00 – noon), Millennials and Gen-Xers prefer to consumer content later in the day (8:00 – midnight).
  • The least popular time to consumer content across all three generations was between midnight – 5:00 am.

2. Most Millennials Go Mobile

When it comes to which device is most preferred when consuming content, laptops are most common, followed by desktop computers. However, over 50% of respondents who said they use their mobile phone as their primary device for content consumption were deMillennials. Other takeaways:

  • Baby Boomers use laptops the most (43%), but they also use their tablets the most (40% of all primary tablet users are Baby Boomers).
  • Over 25% of Millennials use their mobile phones as their primary source of content.
  • Gen-Xers are the least active tablet users, with only 8% using them as a primary device.

3. Blogs are the Top Type of Content

All three generations agreed on the types of content they would like to see online. Blog articles were the top preferred content type for all three generations, followed by images, comments, and ebooks. The top 3 preferred types of content were exactly the same across all three generations.

  • The least preferred types of content were flipbooks, SlideShare, webinars, and whitepapers.
  • Audio books were a top 5 content type for Millennials, while Gen X-ers prefer case studies, and Boomers prefer previews/demos.
  • Surprisingly, both Millennials and Gen-Xers listed quizzes as one of their top 5 least favorite types of content.
  • All generations mentioned that the ideal content length is 300 words.
  • Baby Boomers have the high preference for articles under 200 words, at 18%.
  • Gen-Xers have a high preference for articles over 500 words, compared to other generations. Over 20% prefer long-form articles while only 15% of Baby Boomers and Millennials feel the same way.
  • Gen-Xers prefer short articles the least; less than 10% prefer articles under 200 words.

4. Millennials’ Favorite Content Genre Technology and Entertainment

All generations have their own individual preferences on content genre. While topics of technology (22%) and entertainment (18%) are most preferred by Millennials, Baby Boomers have a lead in news and politics.

  • Gen-Xers fall between Millennials and Baby Boomers across all verticals, but take a slight lead in personal finance, parenting, and healthy living.
  • Although entertainment is a top genre, Millennials and Baby Boomers prefer it a little bit more than Gen-Xers do.

5. Facebook is the Most Preferred Content Sharing Platform

According to all three generations, Facebook is still the king of content sharing. 60% of survey respondents from each group said they used Facebook to share content. YouTube came in second place with 10%, followed by Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

  • Baby Boomers share on Facebook the most, edging out Millennials by only a tiny percentage.
  • While Gen-Xers use Facebook the least compared to the other two generations, they lead the use of Twitter and YouTube.
  • Google+ is the most popular with Baby Boomers at only 8%, nearly double that of Gen-Xers and Millennials.
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  • The most shared content by Baby Boomers is video at 27%.
  • Millennials prefer sharing content such as memes and GIFs.
  • Gen X users fall between the other two generations across all content types, except SlideShares.

To get more insights on the content preferences of each generation, take a look at the full study here.

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