What Women are Watching Online

“More than 180 million US internet users watched 31.2 billion videos in March 2010, according to the comScore Video Metrix service.” Thats a LOT of video content being viewed online.. According to the same study, YouTube was the main sorce of video content, serving more than 135 million viewers during March 2010 and reaching 3 out of every 4 online video viewers, while Google was the source from where the videos were viewed both through number of unique viewers and average videos per viewer.  These massive figures boil down to an average of 96 videos per view on YouTube, and a lot of time spent online by the viewers.

Unfortunately the study does not differentiate between men and women, or any gender specific online video viewing habits, so, intrigued by the numbers and wondering where and what women are watching online, I decided to dwell further into the numbers and try to at least get an idea of where the virtual footpath of a female web browser leads me.

Traditionally reaching out to women through the means of TV was usually been done during the commercial breaks of programs such as soap operas or talk shows. But with the increasing popularity of online content, TV viewing and advertising is being reassessed as forms of marketing. Suddenly the most popular medium of mass communication had a serious competitor in portals such as YouTube and Hulu, offering online content, both traditional commercially created as well as privately uploaded user generated content. Whichever it is, it is today being uploaded in enormous amounts every second of the day by users all over the world.

Simultaneously as this switch was happening, the traditional view of marketing to women online and offline was shaken by a 2007 study by BIGresearch in which women were deemed less stereotypical than what many marketeers might have wanted them to be. (Funny how its always easier if you can put someone in a box..). According to the study, women were noted to be more likely to be regularly or occasionally watching sports than soap operas. From the women surveyed, 62% said they watch sports regularly or occasionally on TV while only 42% said they watch soap operas with the same frequency. Have you accounted for this in your marketing mix?

Before you revamp your whole marketing mix, The Nielsen Company and Microsoft did a highly interesting study on video ads shown during full-episode online TV shows. The study showed that a deeper brand impact was achieved online than through corresponding on-air TV ads. The study states that online video ads had a 65% general recall, compared to the lower 46% general recall for TV ads.

Whether its video content, blogs, social media portals or any other  form of user generated content online, the new formats and viewer behaviours are a blessing in disguise. The same study by Nielsen shows and encourages marketing efforts to look into Dual Platform marketing mixes where video content is not purely offered on air, but also online, hence going full circle and not excluding any possibilities.

So after all that, there is still a missing element in the story. Gender. Is there a difference between men and women and their viewing habits online? A study by SocialMediaExaminer digs a bit deeper and shows that men are significantly more likely to use YouTube or other video marketing than women (51.2% of all men compared to only 42.6% of women). Now we are getting somewhere! So fewer women watch YouTube than men, but that is still an impressive number of approximately 78million women using YouTube! In March! (If you use the figure stated in the beginning of this article as a base).

In 2007 Nielsen Online stated that men and women consume online video differently based on the findings from their latest VideoCensus study. While women lead online network TV viewing, men were drawn to consumer-generated media. Reading that and comparing the info to the above study by SocialMediaExaminer I cannot help but wonder if the question is not WHAT are women watching online, but rather, what content would women LIKE to see online. And who will actually act and generate it?

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