iMedia Connection

The Surprising Sites Visited by Seniors

It's 2006, the year the first baby boomers turn 60. As I considered what to do for my mother on the eve of her 60th birthday, I realized that as online marketers, we spend a considerable amount of time talking about what the younger generations are doing online, but very little time on those who came to the internet later in life, and may use it for different purposes than we do.

People over 55 years of age currently represent 14 percent of the adult internet population according to Hitwise. Because many are retired, they have a significant amount of time to spend online, and their online behavior differs markedly from their younger online counterparts.

Hitwise data reports five categories strongly represented by this demographic in July 2006-- Pharmacies, E-Greetings, Cruises, Gambling/Games, and Entertainment/Competitions. From a life stage standpoint, the first three make sense-- people over 55 are concerned about their health, they want to keep in touch with family and friends, and enjoy all-inclusive cruises as a vacation activity. But what kind of games are women over 55 playing online? Here we'll explore the online gaming phenomenon, and next month we'll take a closer look at online competitions.

By examining Hitwise reverse demographic search, we can identify which specific sites members of selected demographic groups were most likely to visit in a given time period. For females over age 55, some of the most popular sites in July 2006 were Pogo, Slingo and Gamehouse, which are considered "casual gaming" sites. Casual games are usually one-player games that are easy to learn, and include everything from simulated slot machine and casino games to board games and puzzles.

In June 2006, there were 5,810 sites in the Hitwise Entertainment/Games category, and visits to these sites made up 2.6 percent of all internet visits, up eight percent from June 2005. Online users typically spend a significant amount of time at casual gaming sites-- anywhere from an average of 10 minutes at Lycos Gamesville to more than 20 minutes at Slingo. Below is a table showing the Top Ten Entertainment/Games sites with the highest representation of females over age 55 for the week ending July 8, 2006.

Entertainment/Games sites with Highest Representation of Females over age 55
Week ending July 8, 2006
Rank Site Domain Percent Female Percent Over Age 55
1 The JigZone www.jigzone.com 75.62% 58.62%
2 Atlantis atlantis.bigfishgames.com 86.41% 46.86%
3 My Way - Games www.gamesville.lycos.com 78.00% 41.14%
4 Lycos Gamesville www.gamesville.lycos.com 78.00% 41.14%
5 Pogo www.pogo.com 75.11% 32.80%
6 USATODAY.com - Puzzles puzzles.usatoday.com 53.81% 40.07%
7 Slingo www.slingo.com 69.54% 30.97%
8 Uproar www.uproar.com 69.63% 30.24%
9 Game House www.gamehouse.com 69.28% 28.09%
10 Big Fish Games www.bigfishgames.com 80.69% 23.49%
Source: Hitwise US

The most searched-for games that sent traffic to these sites for the four weeks ending July 8, 2006 might be surprising to some-- did you know that Family Feud has a second life online? Or that jigsaw puzzles are still popular? The online habits of women over the age of 55 are fascinating, and merit attention given their household purchasing power.

Top 10 Game Search Terms Driving Traffic to Game Sites for Females over age 55
Four Weeks ending July 8, 2006
family feud
Puzzles
text twist
Zuma
jigsaw puzzles
Bejeweled
diner dash
frantic fish
cake mania
diner dash 2
Source: Hitwise US

Hitwise is the world's leading online competitive intelligence service. Each day, Hitwise monitors how more than 25 million internet users interact with over 500,000 websites across 160 industry categories. By monitoring more people, more websites, more often, Hitwise provides marketers with timely and actionable marketing insights on how their online presence compares to competitive websites. Companies use this information to maximize the return on their online investment, in efforts such as search marketing, affiliate programs, online advertising, visitor segmentation, content development and lead generation. Hitwise collects internet usage information via a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in mega panels, and complies with local and international privacy legislation as audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Founded in 1997, Hitwise is a privately held company, headquartered in New York City and operates in the United States, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

LeeAnn Prescott is senior research analyst, Hitwise. Read full bio.