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The “Echo Boomers” Generation in Search Marketing


As we know, to be successful in search, we have to adapt and tailor our plans, strategies and tactics  to the mass audiences and do our best to accommodate their intentions, interests and behaviors. With that said,  I came across an interesting segment on CBS’s 60 minutes episode “Children of the  Baby Boomers” which talks about the “Echo Boom Generation” and it really caught my attention because everything that was said has a strong direct influence in all of our search marketing efforts. For example, if you do a quick Google search for “echo boomers” you will see a plethora of organic listings talking about this very topic.

So What is an “Echo Boomer”?
In Wikipedia, it states that “according to the theory of William Strauss and Neil Howe, the Echo Boom Generation is a sub-generation in North America and some European countries branching off Generation Y.
The Echo Boom is simply an expansive term for children born between roughly
1982 and 1994.  The Kids of this generation are called Echo Boomers, a reference to the fact that the generation falls between about 30 and 36 years after the Baby Boomer
generation, and thus many Echo Boomers are the children of Baby Boomers. In this theory, the generation spans from, and immediately follows, the so-called MTV Generation and immediately precedes the Internet Generation.

Why should we care?
This generation is significant because they are the last born to
appreciate the changes of the digital revolution, and the rise of the
internet and computer technology. The “Echo Boomers” are expected to be
highly involved in what is sometimes being called Generation C

Now that we have idea of what Echo Boomers are, we have to be aware of what, how and why people are searching the way they are. To me, this is the essence of why we do what we do.


Here’s a possible typical search example.

Please Note: I realize there are many Baby Boomers out there who are very web savvy and DO NOT need the assistance of a child or grandchild to introduce them to Searching online. I am only making a very generalized statement based on experiences with my own parents and  family as well as real stories and experiences from friends.

A Baby boomer (who has not yet gotten web savvy) wants to start shopping online. She’s familiar with the web, but not too familiar with everything so she asks her son, daughter, niece or nephew (who are online everyday whether on You tube, Face book, Amazon, whatever right). So the “echo boomer” will suggest to the Mom the following “do a Google search on Bed comforters” The EB then tells the Mom to click on the ads at the right side of the Google search, and you can start shopping, comparing, ordering etc… So, instead of the Baby Boomer Mom just diving right into it, she values the experience and opinions of her younger generation. I know this may not be the most accurate example, but you can understand where I can coming from. The opinion of the “truly experience web surfers and searchers” influences the newer, less experience baby boomers trying to understand the internet. Let’s face it, the older the person, the more skeptical they are with the Internet.

Why is this significant in Search?

  • Helps us better understand who were are targeting with our Ad/Creative Messaging.
  • Helps determine which “head” and “longtail” keywords to go after.
  • Explains why Ad and Landing Page Testing is increasing in importance as we try to tailor our messaging to specific audiences which provide the best results.
  • Explains why were seeing an increase of  Internet searchers year after year.
  • Signals possible reasons why there is an apparent increase of Female buyers online.

So in conclusion, I hope this blog post is interesting and sheds some light into what’s going on with the behaviors of our searchers. In all of my research and tactics that I picked up over the years, I can safely say that understanding what is going on in our society is far more important than any secret to the latest Google quality score. If it wasn’t for listening and trying to adapt to Internet searching behaviors, why the hell do we still have jobs.

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11 Responses to "The “Echo Boomers” Generation in Search Marketing"

  1. Betsy Walton says:

    It’s a dangerous mistake — yet one being made frequently by advertisers and the huge (youth-obsessed) ad industry that services them — to assume that Boomers are “newer” and “less experienced” with the Internet!?! For starters, there’s the reality that any Boomer (male or female) who’s ever held a white-collar job knows as much or more about using the Internet as any subsequent generation. Furthermore, most Boomers aren’t afraid to dive right into anything, so the concept of Internet search would hardly be off-putting.
    This entire article reeks of ageism: “Let’s face it, the older the person, the more skeptical they are with the Internet”. Really. How about, “the older the person, the more skeptical they are that Gen X/Y/Z (etc) knows more than they do about ANYTHING.”

  2. Greg Meyers says:

    Betsy, thanks for the comments. I am glad you responded to this blog post and are stirring up the search marketing pot a little on this subject. To me, this is what blogging is all about. Different perspectives, strong opinions and the overall educated discussion.

  3. SearchCap: The Day In Search, October 22, 2007

    Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web….

  4. Jim Clayman says:

    I’m the father of three Echo Boomers. I have to agree with Betsy that they don’t necessarily approach internet searches differently than we Baby Boomers do. The simplicity of search (type in a term you’re looking for, get an answer) enables anyone, regardless of age, to find what they’re looking for. (I’ve never had to explain the concept of “search” to my 70-year-old mother.) IMO the key difference between Echo Boomers and Baby Boomer is their use of social networking sites. They use Facebook almost daily. Most of us Baby Boomers don’t.

  5. Tanya says:

    As part of the “Echo Boomers” AND a member of the internet marketing industry – my parents and grandparents have still never asked me for information on how to use the internet and how to find what they’re looking for. They always seem to do it just like the rest of us – if you don’t find it the first time, try again.
    One difference I do notice is that if they don’t find what they are looking for they often blame themselves “maybe I just don’t know how to do it” instead of thinking that it doesn’t exist (ie, trying to find store hours for the Ma & Pa convenience store on the corner).
    But I do get asked when they can’t get the printer to work!

  6. Greg Meyers says:

    Tanya, that is a very good observation. Thanks for the comments.

  7. Adam Snider says:

    As an Echo Boomer myself, I can say that I would never suggest to my non-web savvy parents that they should click on the Google ads after doing a search. I would tell them to click one of the first few results in the organic SERPs.
    Of course, as a marketer who is heavily involved in online/search marketing, I might not be representative of a typical Echo Boomer.

  8. I am also an Echo Boomer and online marketer.
    I grew up on floppy disks and MS-DOS but often hear older people tell me that I did not experience the technology boom. This is a very common misconception.
    The truth is the technology boom raised me. After all, if it’s easiest to learn a foreign language as a child why would learning technology be any different.
    People of my age group have an uncanny natural ability to figure things out on a computer. No need for articles or questions we dig in and figure it out with unmatched ease.
    And like your example, my mother calls upon my natural instincts constantly. She will call me at midnight to ask me any variety of questions that so simple. It is not a natural process to her like it is to me. She needs my help and will follow my any given advice.
    I have to add that working in the search marketing industry has caused me to look at the ppc ads first in a search. There are some very valuable smaller companies that simply do not have the power to compete with large competitors via seo. Yet, these companies typically offer superior customer service and reliability.
    My final thoughts are trust the Echo Boomers and the Sponsored Search Results.

  9. Zoe says:

    Baby boomers are a dying breed, check out an article at dailycents.com, a direct link to the article is http://blogs.dailycents.com/?p=804

  10. Zoe says:

    Baby boomers are a dying breed, check out an article at dailycents.com, a direct link to the article is http://blogs.dailycents.com/?p=804

  11. Sjonas says:

    Baby Boomers are a dying breed? They are very much alive and as they have been for the past 50 years, they’ll continue to change the face of society as we know it. Forget the frail gray-haired retiree of yester-year….Baby Boomers are very much alive and full of life. They’ll continue to heavily impact our economy for the next 30 years.

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