Gauging Gen X’s Digital Device Usage and Attitudes Towards Advertising

Straddling the analogue and digital divide, Gen Xers are readily reachable by marketers, but they can be picky about where and how they want to interact with ads.


We spoke with demographics thought-leaders about this generation’s device usage and their attitudes toward advertising. Here’s what we learned:

Get ‘Em on the Go

Smartphone ownership is the norm for Xers—we estimate that 88.5% of the Xer population, or 57.9 million people, own such a device. For marketers, knowing how to reach this cohort with timely and relevant communications is key.

US Smartphone and Tablet Users, by Generation, 2019 (% of population in each group)<img class="cb-widget-chart_placeholder" src="data:;base64,

“They’re certainly using their smartphones a lot,” said Gillian MacPherson, vice president of digital product and strategy at Epsilon. “Based purely on screen time and usage, Xers are being effectively targeted and influenced through their mobile devices. They are shopping more online than they are with other devices.”

Xers look to their phones for convenience and ease of use and are attuned to ads on these devices specifically while multitasking or on the go. According to a November 2018 survey from AI-advertising platform Aki Technologies conducted by sampling service Lucid, Xer internet users ages 39 to 53 are most receptive to smartphone ads while watching TV (57%) or in bed before sleeping (51%), as is true of all other generations. However, Xers are specifically receptive of ads while shopping in-store (37%), exercising (39%) and running errands (39%).

When Are US Internet Users Most Receptive to Smartphone Ads? (% of respondents, by generation, Nov 2018)<img class="cb-widget-chart_placeholder" src="data:;base64,

“This is a hectic life stage for Xers,” MacPherson said. “They have busy careers and a lot more of them have kids, so that convenience factor is huge.”

Don’t Bother Them Too Much on TV

Xers still watch a lot of nondigital TV at 3 hours, 28 minutes per day, compared with millennials (slightly more than 2 hours according to our forecast figures). This usage volume means they’re available to see marketers’ advertising, but this generation can be particular about their ad experiences.

“They are frustrated with ad repetition,” said Jeff Loucks, executive director for technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte. “They feel like there are too many ads, and the ads are too long. […] The desire to avoid these ads is driving a lot of streaming subscriptions, too.”

And subscribing they are. According to February 2019 survey from Deloitte, 77% of Xers ages 36 to 52 subscribe to video-on-demand services, up from 64% who said the same in 2017.

US Internet Users Who Subscribe to Pay TV vs. Video-on-Demand (VOD) Services, Feb 2019 (% of respondents, by generation)<img class="cb-widget-chart_placeholder" src="data:;base64,

Alongside avoiding ads, Xers turn to streaming subscriptions for content control and exclusive access to shows and movies, per Deloitte.

They’re Getting Smart About Speakers

Though not as quickly as digital natives, Xers are open to adopting new technology. This year, we estimate more than one-third of Xers (35%) will use smart speakers at least once per month as they evolve daily tasks from their phones to their speakers.

“They’re asking Alexa or Google for weather and traffic news,” Epsilon’s MacPherson said. “They’re listening to music, setting reminders and asking about their calendars. They’re looking at the simple things they once did on their devices to now executing these tasks verbally.”

Some Xers are going beyond these simple tasks to use their speakers for more involved activities. According to our June 2019 survey conducted by market research company Bizrate Insights, smart speakers are most popular among Xers who own these devices for ordering entertainment (26%) as well as adding products to a shopping cart and purchasing on another device (21%). However, the majority of Xer respondents (57%) still said “none of the above” when asked how they use these devices.

Which Select Activities Have US Smart Speaker Owners Done on Their Smart Speakers? (% of respondents, by demographic, June 2019)<img class="cb-widget-chart_placeholder" src="data:;base64,

“Xers are very open to interacting with media in new ways, whether that’s the smartphone, the smart speaker, streaming, etc.” Deloitte’s Loucks said. “They are eager for a better ad experience, and they want a better exchange of attention for content.”

For marketers, it’s crucial to meet this dichotomy of a generation where they are, and to come equipped with appropriate and timely messaging that mirrors their unique life stage.


10 differences between artificial intelligence and human intelligence


Today I want to tell you what is artificial about artificial intelligence. There is, of course, the obvious, which is that the brain is warm, wet, and wiggly, while a computer is not. But more importantly, there are structural differences between human and artificial intelligence, which I will get to in a moment.

Before we can talk about this though, I have to briefly tell you what “artificial intelligence” refers to.

What goes as “artificial intelligence” today are neural networks. A neural network is a computer algorithm that imitates certain functions of the human brain. It contains virtual “neurons” that are arranged in “layers” which are connected with each other. The neurons pass on information and thereby perform calculations, much like neurons in the human brain pass on information and thereby perform calculations.

In the neural net, the neurons are just numbers in the code, typically they have values between 0 and 1. The connections between the neurons also have numbers associated with them, and those are called “weights”. These weights tell you how much the information from one layer matters for the next layer.

The values of the neurons and the weights of the connections are essentially the free parameters of the network. And by training the network you want to find those values of the parameters that minimize a certain function, called the “loss function”.

So it’s really an optimization problem that neural nets solve. In this optimization, the magic of neural nets happens through what is known as backpropagation. This means if the net gives you a result that is not particularly good, you go back and change the weights of the neurons and their connections. This is how the net can “learn” from failure. Again, this plasticity mimics that of the human brain.

For a great introduction to neural nets, I can recommend this 20 minutes video by 3Blue1Brown.

Having said this, here are the key differences between artificial and real intelligence.

1. Form and Function

A neural net is software running on a computer. The “neurons” of an artificial intelligence are not physical. They are encoded in bits and strings on hard disks or silicon chips and their physical structure looks nothing like that of actual neurons. In the human brain, in contrast, form and function go together.

2. Size

The human brain has about 100 billion neurons. Current neural nets typically have a few hundred or so.

3. Connectivity

In a neural net each layer is usually fully connected to the previous and next layer. But the brain doesn’t really have layers. It instead relies on a lot of pre-defined structure. Not all regions of the human brain are equally connected and the regions are specialized for certain purposes.

4. Power Consumption

The human brain is dramatically more energy-efficient than any existing artificial intelligence. The brain uses around 20 Watts, which is comparable to what a standard laptop uses today. But with that power the brain handles a million times more neurons.

5. Architecture

In a neural network, the layers are neatly ordered and are addressed one after the other. The human brain, on the other hand, does a lot of parallel processing and not in any particular order.

6. Activation Potential

In the real brain neurons either fire or don’t. In a neural network the firing is mimicked by continuous values instead, so the artificial neurons can smoothly slide from off to on, which real neurons can’t.

7. Speed

The human brain is much, much slower than any artificially intelligent system. A standard computer performs some 10 billion operations per second. Real neurons, on the other hand, fire at a frequency of at most a thousand times per second.

8. Learning Technique

Neural networks learn by producing output, and if this output is of low performance according to the loss function, then the net responds by changing the weights of the neurons and their connections. No one knows in detail how humans learn, but that’s not how it works.

9. Structure

A neural net starts from scratch every time. The human brain, on the other hand, has a lot of structure already wired into its connectivity, and it draws on models which have proved useful during evolution.

10. Precision

The human brain is much more noisy and less precise than a neural net running on a computer. This means the brain basically cannot run the same learning mechanism as a neural net and it’s probably using an entirely different mechanism.

A consequence of these differences is that artificial intelligence today needs a lot of training with a lot of carefully prepared data, which is very unlike to how human intelligence works. Neural nets do not build models of the world, instead they learn to classify patterns, and this pattern recognition can fail with only small changes. A famous example is that you can add small amounts of noise to an image, so small amounts that your eyes will not see a difference, but an artificially intelligent system might be fooled into thinking a turtle is a rifle.

Neural networks are also presently not good at generalizing what they have learned from one situation to the next, and their success very strongly depends on defining just the correct “loss function”. If you don’t think about that loss function carefully enough, you will end up optimizing something you didn’t want. Like this simulated self-driving car trained to move at constant high speed, which learned to rapidly spin in a circle.

But neural networks excel at some things, such as classifying images or extrapolating data that doesn’t have any well-understood trend. And maybe the point of artificial intelligence is not to make it all that similar to natural intelligence. After all, the most useful machines we have, like cars or planes, are useful exactly because they do not mimic nature. Instead, we may want to build machines specialized in tasks we are not good at.

Why unicorn brands are so focused on building communities

Traditional digital marketing strategies fall flat in the age of ad blockers and brand over-saturation. Meanwhile, competition gets tougher and customer acquisition costs go up. The modern digital economy requires a unique approach to marketing. That is why many of the most successful companies invest in things that don’t directly lead to more sales but strengthen the brand in the long run: they are focused on building communities around their product. It has become increasingly important for those brands that want to reach and engage with Gen Z.


To become a movement

Having a strong community isn’t just a way to differentiate yourself — it’s a way to transcend the boundaries imposed by the core component of your business. No matter how good what you’re selling, at the end of the day it’s just a product. And one’s relationship with products can only get so personal.

According to the 2019 Meaningful Brands survey, 77% of brands could simply disappear and not a single customer would care. But if your marketing is structured around your community, your brand can avoid that fate. It can, instead, come to represent a passionate group of like-minded people.

To provide social context

Your community is a market positioning tool like no other. A lot of brands produce ads featuring sports cars and luxury items, trying to appeal to the target demographic’s ideal self-image. But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean much. By now we’re used to these tactics, that sell everything from skincare products to energy drinks. We all know that a new pair of shoes does not make one worthy of a Met Gala invitation — no matter what the ad wants you to believe. However, when your product is actually used by actual celebrities — this social context is impossible to ignore.

To gain brand ambassadors

Related to the last point — the people who feel ‘at home’ in your community are also most likely to convince others to use your product. Word-of-mouth marketing is a force to be reckoned with — even though you can’t easily measure it. 6 out of 10 customers won’t trust your brand unless someone else vouches for it. They want to be sure that you deliver on your promises. Content, generated by the members of your community, can convince them to take the risk.

Moreover, these same people will willingly expand effort to ‘convert’ others. Because, as we have previously mentioned, they perceive it as a movement, a lifestyle choice — not a purchasing decision. Their connections will become your leads — 71% of consumers are highly influenced by their friends’ recommendations.

To develop brand loyalty

Community loyalty often, though not necessarily, translates into brand loyalty. These people are brought together by your corporate vision, and will, as a rule, enthusiastically approach products that expand it. This can present a set of challenges: if your development decisions somehow damage the ideals your community was built upon, users will abandon your product en masse. However, if you stay true to your promises, people will be eager to try out new things.

To make smarter decisions

Having an active community is a great way to ensure a transparent feedback loop between you and your customers. Individual reactions get lost, but communal resonance is hard to miss. Your community can amplify the voices that would otherwise be drowned out.

It also gives you a great way to measure how well you’re doing as a company. You can use it as a metricfor customer satisfaction and customer retention.

According to Accenture Interactive, 91% of Gen Z and millennials are willing to switch brands over ethical issues. If you monitor your communal spaces, you can notice the early signs of things going wrong. To speed this feedback loop further up, you can even directly address your customers in a public forum and listen to their grievances or suggestions.

Moreover, it’s far less expensive for a business to retain customers than it is to acquire new ones. Yet most companies continue to prioritise customer acquisition over retention.

To bridge online and offline

Last, but not least, it’s a great way to establish yourself on both sides of the screen by bringing your online community offline (or vice versa).

Your online community does not cease to exist in the real world. If you’re a company that makes digital products, or uses direct-to-consumer sales tactics, you can take advantage of this to establish your presence in meatspace.

Companies from Blizzard to Google and Coinbase arrange meet-ups and conferences, giving their community members an opportunity to convene in real life. The connections people make online are more tangible than they might seem and nurturing them offline will only make them stronger. Moreover, real world presence will work as advertising for people you’ve been unable to reach online.

Likewise, traditional brands can establish online communities so that their users, no matter where they live, get the opportunity to lead an active communal life.


Brand communities are a part of our digital culture — and you can’t ignore it. If you are not nurturing the communities of both your customers and your supply-side partners, you risk playing a losing game against the rising cost of traffic and clicks.

We need to open channels of communication through regular people, those we can truly connect to. Only they can reliably drive long term user retention. That’s why it is vital to focus on your social impact in addition to conventional marketing channels.

MNFST – lifestyle app for Gen Z

5 Gen Z marketing trends for businesses to consider

Those born after 1995 are driving trends online for themselves and older generations. These shared experiences are important for marketers to understand. Here are some tips.

Generation Z is getting older and becoming more active buyers in the marketplace. As the generation matures, businesses must find new ways to engage consumers.

Gen Z marketing trends aren’t exceptionally daunting, but it helps to understand your audience, said Jack Mackinnon, senior principal analyst at Gartner.

Here are five Gen Z marketing trends to know before designing a marketing strategy.

1. Understand your digital platforms

Gen Z is active on pretty much every social media platform, but it uses each one for a different purpose.

While all consumers are likely to be on at least one social media platform, Gen Z is most likely to use new platforms and even go through more than one account over their lifetime, Mackinnon said. It is important for brands to post to multiple platforms but also ensure that each platform’s content is tailored to the specific audience and the reasons people use that platform.

Wendy’s and Taco Bell, for example, are well known for engaging with customers one-on-one on Twitter and Facebook. But that approach won’t work on a platform like TikTok, where short videos of people doing karaoke or comedy is the currency of choice. Businesses find more success using native advertising and sponsoring influencers on these platforms.

Preferred social media platforms by ageSPROUT SOCIAL

While Gen X has historically been more receptive to learning about product features and costs, Gen Z is more invested in interacting with a relatable corporate identity. So, copying and pasting the same content across multiple platforms, for multiple audiences, is a big no-no.

“Gen Z will see through that in a heartbeat, and they don’t like it,” Mackinnon said.

It’s important to interact with consumers directly on social media, rather than just automating publishing. Some brands integrate chatbots, native advertising and e-commerce into social media platforms such as Facebook. This gives users an updated digital experience while using existing infrastructure.

2. Understand dark social media

Sometimes, traditional social media advertising isn’t enough. That’s where dark social comes in.

Gen Z knows how to tailor [its] audience. They know Grandma is on Facebook, so they won’t post some things there. Brands need to focus on getting content in places [that] people talk.

Jack MackinnonSenior principal analyst, Gartner

Dark social refers to platforms not designed for public posting, using group messaging apps such as Slack and WhatsApp. Users can pull in content and talk to people, but that’s it.

“Gen Z knows how to tailor [its] audience,” Mackinnon said. “They know Grandma is on Facebook, so they won’t post some things there. Brands need to focus on getting content in places [that] people talk.”

In 2017, Adidas set up Tango Squad FC, a global soccer initiative that identified young soccer stars who could operate as influencers in messaging apps. Influencers were given shoes, podcasts and events to promote their message. While costly, it can be effective when done right.

“You can’t just [use] the same old social media strategy,” Mackinnon said. “[Adidas] got their content in where people talk, and that’s a tricky challenge. It was very much an experiment, but it worked.”

3. Understand your audience

Despite being known as “digital natives,” there’s mounting evidence that Gen Z prefers human interaction more than preceding generations for certain aspects of their experiences — as both customers and employees.

“Gen Z does a lot of work comparing brands and looking at options online, but more than millennials, Gen Z wants to do purchasing in real brick-and-mortar,” Mackinnon said. “They like testing products to see if it matches their expectations.”

Another important Gen Z marketing trend is that Gen Z is driving change in how other generations interact with brands, Mackinnon said. Older generations are increasingly adopting Gen Z methods of shopping: researching a product online, making it a social experience and still going to a store to purchase it.

Knowing your audience is about more than just knowing what values your customers have. You also need to know how and why they make their decisions in the marketplace.

4. Understand multiculturalism

Marketing to Gen Z also requires sensitivity and inclusion to be effective.

In 2020, those 18 and younger — the majority of Gen Z — will become a majority-minority for the first time ever,” Mackinnon said. “Equality is a strong value for them. They’re excited by stories that they’re not familiar with.”

The popularity of TV shows such as Atlanta shows that Gen Z is more than willing to engage with stories they might not be immediately familiar with, Mackinnon said. Brands no longer need to play to the cultural-majority-center. Netflix, for example, adds new international content every year.

“Culturally specific content is appealing to everybody, but to do it well, you need a team that has familiarity with the culture and stories,” Mackinnon said.

5. Understand transparency

Another trend suggests that Gen Z knows what marketing is and, while they don’t mind it, they do value transparency. They’ve grown up with platforms that prioritize it, such as YouTube, Mackinnon said.

“Many influencers build their channels talking directly to the camera,” Mackinnon said. “As a result, Gen Z likes behind-the-scenes content.”

While Gen Z is OK with brands promoting materials, they want to know what the company does, how they make the product, where it comes from and how to learn more.

“Brands that provide Gen Z with more content and information, more ways to discover the brand on their own, are going to be successful,” Mackinnon said.

Take a course in digital marketing at the Solvay Brussels School! Why not?  If so, join us for a breakfast with the teachers on 4 September ?

How about if it was your turn – or that of one of your close collaborators – to participate in the Executive Master in Digital Marketing and Communication course organized by the BMMA and the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management?

This is the only 18-day marketing training program in Belgium for managers who want to complement their know-how and keep themselves right up to date by addressing the fundamentals and new trends in digital marketing.

These 18 days of participatory courses (a mix of theory, case studies and practical exercises) are given in English and provided by a smart mix of speakers. They include both high-flying practitioners and professors from the Solvay Brussels School.

Are you interested in learning more during a breakfast with the teachers?
If you are, please register for the information session at 8:00 a.m. on 4 September 2019 at the Solvay Brussels School (42 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels).
Wednesday 4 September at 8:00 am

Wishing you happy holidays and a good period of reflection, and looking forward to see you on 4 September.

10 faits sur Netflix : la vidéo qui révèle les petits secrets de la plateforme de streaming

La semaine dernière, Netflix a sorti sur son compte YouTube français une vidéo révélant 10 anecdotes insolites sur la genèse de la plateforme. Avec plus de 300 000 vues en seulement quelques jours, la vidéo répond à certaines questions des sérivores.


Saviez-vous que Netflix avait été créé avant Google ? Ou que l’application avait été un temps disponible sur PlayStation 2 au Brésil ? Ces fun facts et bien d’autres encore sont compilés dans une vidéo virale postée sur le compte YouTube du géant américain. On y apprend notamment que Netflix a vu le jour en 1997, et qu’il a failli porter le nom de Kibble…


Beaucoup ont été surpris par la date de création de la plateforme. Rappelons qu’avant de devenir l’un des leaders en SVOD, Netflix envoyait des DVD à ses abonnés. Toujours est-il que 1997, ce n’est pas tout récent !

next question… see ya!@danstew21

Just realized Netflix was created in 1997.. um!

See next question… see ya!’s other Tweets

Traduction : Je viens de réaliser que Netflix a été créé en 1997 .. um!

Félou In The Woods@fefedanslesbois

Quand t’apprends que Netflix est plus vieux que Google… et que t’étais même pas encore née quand ça a été créé… (allez voir 10 faits sur Netflix de @NetflixFR sur YouTube)

Embedded video

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Le nom de Kibble n’a pas vraiment séduit les internautes définitivement adeptes de Netflix and Chill !


Avant de s’appeler netflix ça a faillit s’appeler kibble c’est moche mdr 

Demj Badak Records 🇰🇲@DemjBadakR

Sco Pa tu Manaa

View image on Twitter
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La vidéo révèle qu’une série test où l’on voit un homme faire un moonwalk est disponible sur la plateforme ! Forcément, les curieux se sont rués sur leur barre de recherche pour trouver cette pépite :

Dusty Bun@s__3055

La meilleure série de tous les temps. Merci @NetflixFR 

Example Show | Netflix

An example of a show. An example of a show. An example of a show. An example of a show. An example of a show. An example of a show.

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Enfin, on apprend également que la première série originale Netflix n’était pas House of Cards, mais Lilyhammer, une production norvégienne. Cette information n’est pas passée à côté des sérivores qui ont constaté que le show n’était pas disponible en France… Heureusement, le nombre de films et séries originaux sur la plateforme ne cesse de croître, et le choix ne manque pas !


@NetflixFR coucou petite question pourquoi Lilyhammer n’est pas sur Netflix si c la première série que vous avez produite ? Vous devriez pas avoir les droits ? 😅

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Suivez toute l’actualité de Netflix.

En 2030, 85% des Terriens seront connectés à internet

Des cables informatique reliés à un ordinateur permettent d\'être connecté à internet.
Des cables informatique reliés à un ordinateur permettent d’être connecté à internet. (MAXPPP)


Il y a 28 ans, le 6 août 1991, le World Wide Web, jusque-là réservé aux scientifiques, devenait accessible au public. À cette occasion, on s’interroge sur le futur d’internet.


Pour comprendre à quoi ressemblera Internet dans le futur, il faut se pencher sur son passé. Le protocole TCP/IP, c’est-à-dire la base du réseau informatique Internet, a été inventé au début des années 70, pour connecter ensemble tous sortes d’ordinateurs différents. Puis, dans les années 80, est né le World Wide Web, c’est-à-dire l’ensemble des services en ligne que nous connaissons aujourd’hui (Internet et le Web, ce n’est donc pas la même chose !). D’abord réservé aux scientifiques, le Web a été rendu accessible au grand public par son créateur, Tim Berners Lee, le 6 août 1991.

Dans la premiere partie de l’histoire d’Internet, l’internaute était passif et consultait du contenu sur des sites web et des portails. Puis, l’internaute est devenu actif, grâce aux plateformes et aux réseaux sociaux, et alors est né le web participatif dit “2.0”. Parallèlement, on est passé de l’Internet fixe à l’Internet mobile. Aujourd’hui, 4,5 milliards  d’humains sont connectés à Internet, soit près de la moitié de la population mondiale. On estime qu’en 2030, 85% des Terriens auront accès au réseau mondial. En plus des humains, il y aura aussi toutes sortes d’objets connectés : téléviseurs, assistants vocaux, machines à laver, aspirateurs, jouets, robots, etc.

Internet sera partout

On ne parlera plus d’Internet en tant que tel car il disparaîtra sous les applications. On posera une question en langage naturel, au milieu de son salon ou dans sa voiture, et on aura la réponse grâce aux assistants virtuels. Pour communiquer, on demandera à entrer en contact avec une personne et le système nous dira immédiatement si celle-ci est disponible ou pas, sans que l’on se soucie de savoir si on l’appelle par téléphone, par SMS, par WhatsApp ou par Amazon Alexa.

Bien sûr, on imagine les problèmes en quantité : sécurité informatique, comportements inappropriés sur les réseaux sociaux, désinformation, surconsommation électrique, etc. Il reste donc à espérer un Internet de la confiance, de la résilience et respectueux de l’environnement grâce à des technologies propres et moins énergivores.