Why Advertisers Chase Women

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

For years, national TV advertisers were like wealthy young playboys: They could get women anytime they wanted.
Because women were so easy to reach, they were also cheaper than men for advertisers to reach through commercials.
Advertisers still pay two to four times more for male viewers than female viewers because the male television audience tends to be more scarce. However, overall spending on television advertising is on the rise.
Industry estimates, for example, peg the 2003-04 advertising upfront at $9.3 billion, up from $8.1 billion last season. Media buying executives estimate that 60 percent to 70 percent of this year’s upfront was spent on females.
In recent years, the number of outlets targeting women-whom advertisers continue to see as a powerful consumer group-has grown, industry experts said. In less than a decade, broadcast and cable networks such as Oxygen, The WB and WE: Women’s Entertainment have begun competing to deliver different segments of the female audience.
The WB goes after young women and teens; network reality shows such as ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “Extreme Makeover” are attracting women 18 to 34; Oxygen has set its sights on higher-income urban women 18 to 49; WE goes after a broad range of women.
Since then the various TV outlets targeting women have experienced growth in terms of both their ad rates and their revenue. The average prime-time cost per thousand for women 18 to 49 has risen to $45.09 for the fourth quarter of 2003, compared with a CPM of $30.33 two years earlier, according to figures supplied by SQAD, a media forecasting company. During that same period, CPMs for women 25 to 54 rose from $32 to $47.53. That’s nearly a 50 percent increase for each demo.
The number of new advertisers targeting women has also pushed revenue higher. WE, for example, did business with 32 new advertisers in the latest upfront, according to Arlene Manos, president, Rainbow National Network Advertising Sales, which sells WE.
Female viewers are important for advertisers because of their demonstrated brand loyalty as well as their influence in making major household purchases, said John Rash, senior VP of national broadcast for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis.
“A significant amount of consumer packaged goods are purchased by women,” Mr. Rash said, “and women either outright purchase or influence 50 percent of automotive decisions. Those are two very big categories in advertising.”
Peter Butchen, a senior VP at Initiative, a media planning and buying agency based in New York, echoed the enduring importance of women viewers.
“Women make up more than half of the viewing audience. They’re a more stable population base,” Mr. Butchen said. “For the most part, women are the ones doing the purchasing. They’re the ones, for the most part, selecting the brands,” Mr. Butchen said.
Young women viewers have been the hot commodity for advertisers over the past few years, and they’ve been delivered in droves by such WB programming as “Dawson’s Creek,” “Smallville” and “Gilmore Girls.” Traditional marketing strategy targets young adults for lasting brand loyalty. That kind of thinking makes The WB the place to be for many young-skewing marketers.
However, Lifetime, which generally sells to the older 25 to 54 women demo, subscribes to a different brand theory, that brand loyalty can shift just as easily later in life.
“Women have told us it doesn’t make a bean of difference,” said Lynn Picard, executive VP of advertising sales for Lifetime Television. “Just because they bought a Chevy when they were young doesn’t mean they will buy a Chevy later in life. Brand loyalty is subjective.”
While advertisers are spending more to reach women viewers on a wider range of television platforms than in the past, they have been able to balance their budgets by incorporating some of the more fledgling outlets, which cannot yet demand the highest prices.
“If it’s for a broad female audience, cable may not be expensive,” said Gina Garrubbo, executive VP of advertising sales for Oxygen Media. “You can offset rising network CPMs with cable CPMs.”
With tune-out a growing concern this season, competition for viewers is fiercer than ever, spurring a price rise in almost all demographics. Still, cable CPMs for women viewers remain roughly half that of broadcast and syndication, except in original programming, where the gap is narrowing. Some buyers also use this discrepancy to help keep overall costs manageable.
Eric Estrin contributed to this report.