Advertising is big business. Companies and corporations around the world spend billions of pounds every year on advertising; seeking to reach and influence consumer spend. The power of such marketing is well documented and as such should not be underestimated.
Yet we also know that for advertising to truly work, it needs to hit the right note. Readers want to trust publishers not to be exposed to irrelevant advertising, which is why the entire ecosystem of brand marketers, technology companies and publishers need to work together to properly target consumers through the right advertisement material.
Naturally, one essential consideration for marketers is the difference between the genders. Like most marketing tactics, gender specific advertising needs to be carefully considered – targeting consumers according to their gender can be construed as offensive or sexist. Yet to ignore gender differences is to be missing a trick – so just how can marketers best focus their advertising spend to reach specific audiences?
It will come as no surprise that content is key to ensuring that advertising is appropriately targeted. We know that men and women consume media, and therefore marketing, in different ways. For example, when searching online men are more likely to be seeking entertainment and facts, while women typically look for advice and tips articles. It is important that marketers understand these differences in online behaviour in order to best provide the relevant content their target audience is looking for and, in turn, deliver the value that will ultimately encourage consumer engagement with their marketing material.
There are four important considerations for the marketer looking to target advertising by gender: the preferred site, the time spent on the site, the value and the potential for sharing.
It is essential to think about where men and women are spending their time online. For women, generalist sites that cover a range of content categories provide the greatest value. By contrast, men are far more likely to be visiting more specialist sites, focusing on sports, news, gaming or entertainment. These sites may be unfamiliar to a mainstream audience, but will be essential reading among certain groups.
The next consideration is how long people are spending on sites – we know that women are likely to spend longer on a page, so you have more time to engage – but they are also more likely to be turned off by a page that’s broken up by sponsorship material. The key then is to blend sponsored material into the content. Men, however, have been found to spend shorter periods online at one time, so content has to be high impact – such as with the home page takeover.
The final two points tie into one; for marketing content to be truly successful and engaging, it needs to provide value, ideally to the point of empowering the reader to share the content. We already know that different genders are likely to find different content of value. As such, by providing women audiences with more tips-based content (recipes, parenting advice) there is an increased chance of them then sharing this content via social media – perhaps talking about a personal anecdote or sharing a photo. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to respond to entertainment, facts or humour, so it stands to reason that this is the type of content they are more likely to share, for example, quiz results.
Naturally, such studies are looking at the average behaviour. Nevertheless, the best kind of advertising is targeted and engaging, and studying online gender behaviours allows marketers to create campaigns that not only tick these boxes but ensure its advertising is catered to engaging with each gender rather than being offensive or irrelevant.
Maria Cadbury is UK Managing Director for Evolve Media