AARP Makes Its Site Safe for Advertisers

Launches new strategy to get ageist marketers in the door

Older Americans want you to know they’re worth marketers’ time, but apparently everyone hasn't gotten the memo. AARP knows that well, so it’s created a new deals section to entice them to advertise on its site without—God forbid!—being seen by younger consumers.

“Marketers tend to not want to market to 50-plus for some reason,” said Peter Zeuschner, AARP’s Northeast media sales manager. “It gives them the fear of aging their brand.”

A bunch of blue-chip advertisers, including—shhh—Dell, British Airways and Radio Shack—are using the section, called Hot Deals, to test discounts of various kinds. One advertiser, Steve Denton, president of GSI Media, said Hot Deals offered a good way to test ads for the AARP audience using a performance-based model. “You have a large audience of 50-plus that’s online, has tablets, income and time,” he said. Even so, Denton wasn't all that eager to say which of GSI's advertisers are trying out the section via GSI. (For the record, they include GNC and CJ Banks.)

Zeuschner said he hoped that the results of Hot Deals would speak for themselves—AARP members have money to spend and are deal-happy—and in so doing, help change attitudes about marketing to older people.

“There’s still a long way to go,” he said. “It’s not like people are banging on the door saying, ‘We need to run more advertising pages in AARP.’”