Much has been made about the seeming difficulty of monetizing many of the social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.
I just came across an article that sheds some light on the subject at eMarketer. The article, titled Baby Boomers and Social Networking, describes the results of a study by ExactTarget. The study reveals that the baby boomers are not particularly fond of social networking sites. For example, only 13% of 55 to 64 year-olds used social networking sites.
Why is this important? A bank robber was once asked why he robbed banks. He replied "because that's where the money is." Well, it's the baby boomers who are most affluent compared to the younger cohorts of social networking site users. This is especially true with respect to the youngest users in middle school, high school and college. It is only reasonable to assume that monetization will lag if the segment of the online audience with the most money to spend stays away.
This gap in the audience for social networking sites may not be so easy to fill. Generational differences in preferences may mean that the typical social networking by definition has little appeal to baby boomers. The sites may do better by focusing on more precise targeting of ads in order to separate users from what little money they do have.
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