Advertising and Marketing

They Still Love to Chase Girls

TV execs like to talk about the elusive young male demo, but new study touts power of younger women and millennials 2/06/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

It seems like every day there is a new deal or gadget that
stands to revolutionize the TV industry. But one thing just doesn’t
change: It is still women that drive the business as far as advertisers
are concerned.

On broadcast TV, the shows most watched by women tend to be the
most watched overall. Tops on the viewing list among adult women
during the week of Jan. 23 was American Idol (Wednesday and Thursday).
The rest of the top 10 shows among women were also among TV’s
most viewed: CSI, The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, Undercover Boss,
NCIS, The Good Wife, Castle and Touch.

That women are seen by advertisers as
important consumers is borne out by a
recent study in which half of the women
surveyed said they regularly influence
friends and family to buy or not buy a
particular product or service. That figure
was 61% higher than the 31% of women
in a similar 2008 study who said they influenced purchasing decisions.

The new survey, conducted by
Fleishman-Hillard and Hearst, found
that younger women were more likely to
feel they had an influence on purchase
decisions. Millennial women were most
likely to say they influenced friends and
family, while seniors were least likely.

Mitch Burg, president of the Syndicated
Network Television Association, says syndication’s
ability to reach women continues to be a strong story.

“Right now when you look at daytime, our shows have more than
half the ratings,” he says. “It’s certainly an advantage whether you’re
looking at women 18-49 or moms or young women.”

Syndication also has high ratings on Fridays, leading into weekend
shopping trips, with higher numbers than some primetime shows. “One
of the key trends in this recession is that people are only spending
money when they have money in their pockets,” Burg says. “So reaching
them right before they make their shopping list becomes a key advantage,
and that’s something syndication delivers.”

Cable networks aimed at women recognize this and have benefited
from it. Not long ago, Lifetime was cable’s top-rated network overall. So
far this season it ranks No. 7 among women 25-54, behind USA, TNT,
TBS, Nick at Nite, A&E and Food Network.

But Mel Berning, president for A+E Networks Ad Sales, says: “If
you’re a marketer, you can’t have a female target and not buy Lifetime.
The concentration of women in the audience is 70%.” Even though
ratings have been down, advertisers still want to be associated with the
Lifetime brand, he says.

Berning says that when the economy was down, the number of ad
dollars aimed at female targets remained relatively stable. “When the
market dipped, the packaged goods, the consumer goods, health and
beauty—those categories remained pretty strong.”

And Berning believes Lifetime might be bouncing back, with original
dramas, reality shows and made-for-TV movies all clicking.

“I think we’ll be in the scatter market in a significant way,” he says.

Investigation Discovery’s audience is 63% women, thanks to its focus
on crime and investigation programming. “It is almost a fail-safe
formula for attracting women 25-54,” says
Henry Schleiff, president of the network.

ID rose from being the 39th-ranked
cable network among women 25-54 in
2009 to No. 16 in 2011. This comes despite
being in only 78 million homes, 20
million fewer than some of the network’s

ID’s programming has women 25-54
tuning in for 40 minutes at a clip, double
the length of tune-in for the average
cable network. That indicates viewers are
engaged with the programming and are
likely to stay engaged for the commercials,
says Sharon O’Sullivan, senior VP of national
advertising sales for ID.

While crime content turned off advertisers
not so long ago, ID is adding sponsors.
O’Sullivan says 84 advertisers signed on
last year on top of a base of more than 100. “Advertisers know this is
the content that their core consumer is looking for,” she says.

ESPN’s sports content is also appealing to more women. The network
says 84% of women call themselves sports fans and that half the people
who tune into ESPN each month are women. (Men tune in more often
and spend more time with the network.)

Tricia Betron, senior VP, multimedia sales at ESPN, says women are
catching the sports bug in college, where football is a big part of campus
culture. One-third of women who watch ESPN are college graduates.

At the same time, the notion that advertisers can reach women via
ESPN is resonating because “there’s fewer female-only brands,” Betron

“We’re seeing a lot more adult business for products that, before,
might have been female-targeted,” she says, including brands in the retail,
consumer product goods and weight-loss categories. “It’s definitely
benefiting our business.”

Meanwhile, advertisers such as Nike, Gatorade and P&G’s Secret and
Venus brands are charter sponsors of ESPNW, a Website launched in
2010 for female athletes and fans.