AARP's Web Sites Grow More Engaging With Age
As a growing number of Boomers begin to reach retirement age, the AARP—the nonprofit group dedicated to the interests of persons aged 50 and over—is betting the future lies on the Internet as the organization heads toward its own 50th birthday in 2008.
The magazine’s Web presence is key as more and more of the large pool of AARP’s readership is becoming aware of the ins and outs of the Internet.
Robert Long, manager of the three online publications created for the 35 million AARP members, says the latest survey numbers show 71 percent of people between the ages of 50 and 64 are comfortable visiting the Web on a regular basis these days.
“So much of the audience didn’t have a computer—so much has changed in five years,” he says of when the sites were launched. “… Five years ago, we certainly did a lot more: help text, intro text, simplistic click-here-to-do-this stuff—trying not to use terms like ‘hyperlinks.’ I would say we’re not doing that quite as much anymore.”
The site is also engaging a growing interest from advertisers too, Long says. Advertising saw a jump of between 25 percent and 30 percent in growth between May 2005 and May 2006.
Since coming on board with the AARP in August 2001, Long—who worked as a journalist for trade newsletters and as a content director for several online ventures before landing his current position—says he’s worked to find the right balance between the content published in the bimonthly magazine and originally produced online elements.
“I’m not the type of person that says print is going to go away,” he says. “Print has its purpose. People like holding on to print. The challenge is figuring out how to best leverage each medium to serve the reader the best.”
It’s just one example of where the AARP and every other media outlet is right now—trying to figure out how to utilize the Web to do what the printed page simply cannot.
Long also heads up the organization’s other two sites—AARP Bulletin Online, dedicated to news on key issues for the 50+ age group, and AARP Segunda Juventud Online, the bilingual publication created for its Hispanic market.