It's a safe assumption that marketers are reaching female viewers
through broadcast and cable TV much differently than they did five years ago;
what's fascinating is how much different the methods are even from last season.
With a majority of the broadcast primetime audience made up of women, marketers
and their media planning and buying agencies are now using more sophisticated
techniques that go beyond simply age demographics when putting together media
plans to target women, with an emphasis on digital.
Most marketers are doing extensive studies to find out what
motivates women of assorted ages and income groups to buy products, and what
can be done to best influence those purchases beyond doling out product puffery
in a 30-second spot. More than one agency has mentioned "path to purchase"
studies as a way to learn the thought process of women's purchasing decisions.
Recognizing this, more networks are offering online programming
extensions, whether through streaming their actual shows online, creating
special additional video tied into their shows or offering special websites
with content tied into the female audiences who watch their programming.
Advertisers are offered exclusive sponsorships of those sites.
And marketers are not only working with the traditional
retail, health & beauty and consumer packaged goods categories. Marketers of
products considered more traditionally male-those that have loaded up on TV
sports programming over the years, like financial and insurance, upscale auto
and even beer and wine-have, in this most recent upfront, spent bigger bucks
trying to reach women on female-oriented cable networks.
Many a media agency exec considers today's women the target
of virtually every marketer, and most every plan of national advertisers
includes both television and newer forms of video.
"Women are not watching less TV, they are just watching
differently," says Kristin Goodloe, managing partner at MediaCom, where she
oversees the Revlon account, among others. "We now have to think of TV as video
and buy based on women's video viewing. Traditional television is still important
for the immediacy of promoting new products and building brands, but we are now
complementing that more with online video spending. We cast a wide net with
broadcast and cable TV and then target in better on specific female audiences
by category online."
Sarah Power, executive VP of insights and strategy at
Initiative says, "We don't have a TV strategy today. We have a video strategy.
We know women are really busy and that smartphones are one of their lifelines.
They are busier than ever before multitasking, so the types of traditional TV
commercials geared toward them have to be really eye-catching to be effective."
Power also says with less time to watch television because
of women's busy lives, juggling work and family responsibilities, marketers
trying to reach them are being more selective in what TV shows in which they
buy commercial time.
"We do a lot of research analyzing each show," Power says, "to
determine how many women are watching, what their viewing frequency for a show
is. Marketers also like to be in shows that have a lot of outside chatter
Power adds that with all the stress these multitasking women
are confronted with each day, comedy series are growing in importance as a
vehicle to reach them. "When life gets busy and difficult, women want to laugh,"
Power adds that sitcoms are also easier for women to fit
into their schedules, being only a half-hour, and because each episode has a
singular story arcs, making it easier to come in and out of a series. But she
says the TV networks are also doing a better job of developing drama
programming that while serialized, still has a singular story arc built into
Audrey Siegel, president and director of client services at
TargetCast, says much more research is being done about women's consumer
behavior as it relates to the various categories and brands within those
"Most women today are the primary purchasers of products for
the family, or if not the primary purchaser, than the key influencer of almost
all the purchases," Siegel says. "We look at a woman's path of purchase and try
to determine what their behavior is toward each product. Then we determine how
to best reach them."
DOLLARS TO DIGITAL
While traditional television is still where the bulk of the
ad dollars are spent, each year more dollars are moving to digital, and the TV networks
that offer digital opportunities will be able to hold onto those dollars,
albeit on another platform.
"The number of GRPs [gross rating points] for women 25-54 has
declined by more than 75% in the past 10 years on daytime broadcast television,"
Siegel says. "Some of those GRPs have moved to cable, but more women are
watching content and doing other things online."
Siegel says there has been a huge spike in dollars going to
online gaming because women having been increasing their time spent on those
types of sites.
"The amount of time women spend consuming video online has
increased by 40% since May, 2011," Siegel says. "So today we rarely have a TV
media plan that does not include some element of online video, and we rarely
have a conversation about spending targeting women without a gaming element for
our clients. With the disappearance of soap operas, many women still at home
are moving online and getting involved in gaming."
The women targeted cable networks have always been able to
draw dollars from traditional women's categories such as fashion, health &
beauty and consumer packaged goods, but this year in particular, more marketers
are looking to target women in categories that used to spend almost exclusively
Allison Clarke, senior VP of ad sales for WE tv, says the
network has had an influx of ads for financial and insurance, technology
(beyond cellphones), automotive and alcohol.
"More and more women are becoming the main breadwinners in
families and we are now seeing these nontraditional categories reaching out to
women," she says.
Initiative's Power agrees that marketers who did not
traditionally spend large amounts of ad dollars promoting to women are
beginning to do so. "MillerCoors is advertising more toward women," she says of
the beer-maker and Initiative client that is a huge spender in TV sports.
TargetCast's Siegel says research bears out that women are
also spending more on traditional male-targeted categories. "We've seen more
and more purchases by women in the financial and insurance categories," she
says. "For our financial clients, women are key targets. Women need to be
considered for everything that is sold today."
Not only are traditional male categories targeting women in
their marketing campaigns, but MediaCom's Goodloe says more clients are
interested in looking to create new products specifically geared toward women.
General Motors recently entered into a multiplatform
alliance with fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, who created a clothing line
called Malibu Style that was inspired by the Chevy Malibu. It will be sold
online via LivingSocial, targeted to women 25-54 and will be promoted via
videos streamed across Time Warner-owned websites. Media agency Carat will do
the marketing for the campaign and Mizrahi is hawking the new line via
appearances on assorted syndicated celebrity newsmagazines.
"It's an opportunity for us to put a stake in the ground and
commit to the growing women's segment," Mary Kubitskey of Chevrolet recently
Advertiser dollars have been shifting from broadcast to
cable on a slow but steady basis for the past decade, but Goodloe says more of
the dollars moving today are shifting into female-oriented cable networks, "where
marketers can target women via their passions, whether it be fashion, food or
Adds Power, "We feel more comfortable shifting ad dollars
from broadcast to cable because there is more quality programming on cable
today for women to watch."
Dollars moving from broadcast to cable are also moving into
more online cable where the women's cable networks in particular are willing to
form partnerships with marketers where they can jointly create content and
"The number of impressions online is less important than the
quality of content and if we can get involved in the content creation with
integrations and sponsorships it's something clients are very interested in,"
Siegel says. "Women's cable networks in particular have recently been looking
to bring more content online that is original and different, not just
replicating what they are doing on the network."
Siegel says online fitness sites for women that take viewers
through workout routines and offer health tips with single-advertiser
sponsorships are ideal for many clients that want to target women.
"We are always looking to work with and build partnerships
with marketers to integrate their brands into our network and help them achieve
their goals," says WE tv's Clarke. "We are much more involved in planning with
WE tv offers advertisers customized show and movie wraps,
customized vignettes, storyline integrations and online partnerships.
Ad dollars are starting to move more into mobile in an
attempt to reach women on the go, but many marketers are still unsure of the
best way to promote themselves on that platform.
"Mobile can be tricky," Goodloe says. "Penetration is
growing but many marketers haven't figured out yet how to effectively use it."
TargetCast's Siegel says mobile ad messages to women need to
be relevant or the messages can be perceived as intrusive and do more harm than
One area where Siegel sees progress in mobile is from some
of the larger retailers who are beginning to offer coupons and discounts via
cell phones for shoppers who opt in. Pertinent shopping information that can
make the experience more informed and discounts that can save shoppers money
are more likely to be accepted by women.
Marketers are also interested in reaching women viewers via
VOD, although most would want to be the exclusive advertiser or sponsor of a
particular segment. Clarke says it's hard to get advertisers to accept the
measurement currencies that networks use. "We have our own formula that we use.
Some advertisers accept it, and others don't," she says.
The overall outlook for continuing to bring in more ad
dollars targeting women is strong for the networks, particularly if the TV
networks continue to expand their online offerings and sites that appeal to women.
And while the networks continue to put on more new
programming that skews female, women also tend to watch series that target men,
which is a plus for marketers.
"Women are comfortable watching male-skewing shows,"
Initiative's Power says. "But men don't seem to be comfortable watching
With overall TV spending in the upfront not showing huge
growth, women's networks know they have to work hard to grow their share of the
pie away from the broadcast networks.
"In the most recent upfront, what you could do for
advertisers beyond just offering commercials became much more important," WE tv's
Clarke says. "They all want deeper partnerships and involvement."