Women’s Sites Attract Ad Dollars

Discussion
Aug 19, 2008

By Tom Ryan

Sites aimed at women, from “mommy blogs” to beauty and fashion sites, grew 35 percent last year – faster than every other category on the web except politics, according to comScore. Answering the call, 4.4 billion display ads appeared on women’s websites in May – more than for sites aimed at children, teenagers or families.

According to an article in The New York Times, while men are heavy users of the web, they tend not to visit sites explicitly aimed at them. For example, AOL’s Living channel for women had 16.1 million unique visitors in June, while its Asylum site, a top men’s destination online, had only 3.3 million.

According to Joni Evans, a literary agent who founded wowOwow, an over-40 women’s site, women more so than men thrive on sharing anecdotes – a natural function for the web. “Women love to reach out and talk,” she said.

The growth in advertising and traffic to women’s sites has attracted the attention of major media companies and venture capitalists:

  • On August 5, Comcast paid $125 million for DailyCandy, which calls itself “a free daily e-mail from the front lines of fashion, food, and fun”;
  • In July, Peacock Equity, a venture partnership including NBC Universal,
    invested $5 million in BlogHer, a network of 2,200 blogs by and for women;
  • In March, Yahoo created Shine, a site that publishes original content,
    blog posts from readers and articles from traditional women’s magazine publishers
    like Hearst and Condé Nast.

Among retailers, Walmart offers gift certificates through CafeMom to bloggers writing about what green-products they bought. Another Walmart campaign, Glam, presents a quiz, “What’s Your Steak Style?,” to help a reader determine whether her “palate personality” is casual, healthy, decadent or gourmet. Each page featured an ad for Wal-Mart’s new steak selections.

According to the article, advertisers are betting that the “trust and intimacy that come from talking about sex after motherhood or reading about a blogger’s battle with postpartum depression will translate into sales of products discussed on a site or simply advertised alongside the personal stories.”

Indeed, advertisers are most interested in traditional-media women’s magazines topics: fashion, beauty, celebrities and finding love.

“Time and time again, women are happy to see their relationship with their food, their clothes and their relationships externally manifested in entertainment and how-to content,” said Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal’s women and lifestyle entertainment networks, including iVillage.

Discussion Question: Is advertising on the web becoming a significantly bigger advertising opportunity to reach women? In what ways is it changing? How should web-advertising differ among genders?

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11 Comments on "Women’s Sites Attract Ad Dollars"


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John Gaffney
Guest
John Gaffney
13 years 9 months ago

Retailers need to take into account what I call the concept of “media shrapnel.” The core products are exploding and flying from its center are various customers, advertisers and bits of content. When we consider whether the internet is a better magnet for women, I think the answer is an unqualified yes. But no one has answered how retailers can make sure their pricing, selection, and branding is best translated to that audience via the internet.

Phil Rubin
Guest
Phil Rubin
13 years 9 months ago

Venus is much closer to the internet than Mars.

Aside from the obvious factors, i.e., women spending more money in these heavily advertised categories (fashion, food, beauty, love), there is likely a much greater appreciation for more focused content (and attention). Women have also been underserved by marketers catering to the mass (and male) market. Once again, it’s about context and relevance and when you get those variables properly tuned, people, and especially women, will respond.

Another category that also reflects this trend is travel. For a number of years women have been the fastest growing segment, though there are still relatively few great examples of companies focusing efforts with integrated programs for women. Kimpton Hotels’ Women InTouch program is a great example and one that drives a lot of business for them.

David Biernbaum
Guest
13 years 9 months ago

While traditional thinking retailers are still interested in ad spends and traditional advertising budgets for TV and print media, the far more powerful way to reach moms are on the internet through targeted web sites, message boards, and viral marketing. The ad spend amounts for these types of programs are not as impressive, meaning that they cost a lot less, but the power to reach is probably a hundred times greater.

Do not underestimate products that target moms and use this type of method to get the word out because it’s extremely powerful and drives more traffic into your stores than any other form of marketing or advertising.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
13 years 9 months ago

Yes, advertising on the web is an effective medium on the rise for women, but I believe it’s just as affective for men if placed in the right locations. Women may shop around for price or sales on apparel sites, handbags, accessories, etc. Therefore, the activity is greater.

Men tend to go to the site they’re looking for and purchase the item. Less shopping around and more target marketing. Men still visit Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, automotive sites, Fantasy Football, etc; maybe not as often or as much. Women will visit sites more frequently (just like in store shopping) looking for sales and bargains. It’s the old Venus/Mars thing. Men will have their interest and their modus operandi and women will continue to shop.

Matthew Spahn
Guest
Matthew Spahn
13 years 9 months ago

Certainly, web advertising to women is a growing opportunity for several reasons:
1. More women embrace web usage and online commerce everyday.
2. More content targeted to women appears every day both in the form of editorial content and advertising content.
3. 24/7 convenient content access for the time starved woman.

Web advertising is changing in the form of advertisers designing advertising to start a dialog with her and give her the opportunity to provide feedback. Widgets are utilized frequently, giving her the chance to identify location and preferences.

The advertising by gender needs to reflect the consumption and behavioral shopping patterns of women vs. men on the web. This manifests itself in the form of targeted content, time of day, items purchased, etc. This is measurable on the web and should be taken advantage of.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
13 years 9 months ago

This one is tough. Declining viewers for soap operas and increasing viewers for female oriented web sites. What is an advertiser to do?

Yes, advertisers are putting their money where they can reach their target consumer. This trend will continue. At the current rate, ABC, CBS and NBC, which are continually losing viewers, are likely to become more like AM radio than target market communication. So far, the female oriented web sites are better defined that ones for males. This will change.

Max Goldberg
Guest
13 years 9 months ago

Done well, advertising on the web is a significant opportunity to reach almost any demographic group. The problem is that many retailers and brands don’t know how to do it well. Effectively advertising on the web is unlike advertising in traditional media. It takes a different attitude and skill set.

The web is a great place to engage consumers in a dialogue. It is not a good place to push advertising. The web is a great place to build a tribe. Finally, it is a great place to gather information, data and feedback from consumers.

All of this takes time, resources and patience, as various ideas are tried and measured. Is your brand ready to make this commitment?

Joel Rubinson
Guest
13 years 9 months ago

It might be easier to target females based on context but there are certainly sites that attract a high concentration of males. If you want to play around a bit with that, look at a male oriented site (e.g. mlb.com) in Quantcast and see what other sites have high affinity indices.

Targeting males might be more a matter of lifestyle/interest segmentation and less a matter of context than it is for females. another point to keep in mind is that online media are now focused on more than the click, so the impact on a male consumer can still be appreciable in terms of building towards a sale even if the message is served up to the right person but in a more context-neutral setting.

Lee Peterson
Guest
13 years 9 months ago

The web is perfect for niche marketing so none of this is a surprise (long tail). What I find hard to believe is that men aren’t taking advantage of it. I would say they’re just looking for altogether different categories–if you get my drift–but just as voraciously as women.

It’s not that men have only one thing in mind, but it could certainly be the vast majority of what they search for on the net. Unfortunately, this research doesn’t cover that category.

Andrea Learned
Guest
Andrea Learned
13 years 9 months ago
Advertisers are doing a great job finding women online, and generating interest/sales in integrated, clever ways. But, I don’t think this is as much a Mars/Venus question, as it is topic category/content selection and method of deliver question. Sites/advertisers could do the same in approaching the men’s market–as per Zalaznick’s statement–in externally manifesting the typical men’s magazine topics in entertainment and how-to content, and find success. Advertisers have been working on the online women’s market angle pretty seriously now for a few years–and so we see the growth and numbers described in the NYT piece. Brands can now use much of what they learned in reaching women to find the key topics/categories and the best forms of media for the task of better connecting with men online. Women, and the advertisers striving to reach them, are the leading indicators of where online marketing, in general, will go. At the same time, men may be edging toward shopping for some things in a more “feminine” way. It’s only a matter of time before marketers use this… Read more »
John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
13 years 9 months ago

Absolutely! This is huge. Retailers must find every way to leverage this and reach their consumers. The industry is constantly changing and this is a key area to invest.

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