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On a Mission: The New Internet Mom

Joanne Erickson works as research director for Disney Online. As a proxy for Ken Goldstein, EVP and managing director of Disney Online, she walked through the company’s research on how mothers use the Internet within the context of their family lives. What follows is a partial transcript of her Ad:Tech session:

Joanne Erickson works as research director for Disney Online. As a proxy for Ken Goldstein, EVP and managing director of Disney Online, she walked through the company’s research on how mothers use the Internet within the context of their family lives. What follows is a partial transcript of her Ad:Tech session:

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Let’s start out with some headline news. It seems incredible to think that it was only seven years ago that the Internet became important to the consumer. Should we care about the Internet? Only 18% of households had access to the Internet. When did the Web become mainstream? It was only 2001 that women caught up to men online. Now, it’s a more strategic issue: How do we break through the clutter? Moms reveal that their whole goal is information.

Then, moms and daughters watched television. Now, a much more typical scene is that a mom and daughter will be online. Daughters put their hands on their moms and say, “That’s OK mom, I’ll explain it to you.” Kids today are really dialed into the Internet.

According to Nielsen, there are 31 million moms online. They’re 38, tend to be married, are very smart — college educated — and are working moms. Moms forever have been key decision makers. What’s interesting is how that translates to the Internet.

You have to be where they are online. In 2004, moms told us that they’re spending more time online than watching television. We’re not saying don’t advertise on television. But you need to include media that includes the Internet. We did a lot of focus groups with moms. It’s one of those time-saving devices. It simplifies their life, and that’s what they’re looking for when they turn to the Internet.

Our task was to better understand the Internet mom, her relationship to advertising online, and how it affects her decision-making process. We commissioned C&R Research/KidzEyes to conduct a study for us. They’re expert in mom and kid research. We talked to over 1,800 moms drawn from an online panel and had a statistically robust panel. We included a segmentation analysis, too.

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We arrived at four distinct segments: the Tech Nester, Mrs. Net Skeptic, the Yes Mom, and Passive Under Pressure. We got rid of that last segment because she’s passive and a newbie, but we still ended up with 77% of Internet moms.

The Yes Mom represents 14% of online moms. They tend to be working moms and have less time to spend online and with their kids. They’re upscale, and they go online eight hours a week. That’s in addition to email and work. They’re using other media less often.

Mrs. Net Skeptic represents 31%. They tend to be stay-at-home moms, and they tend to be more protective of her kids online. They’re extremely family centric, and they go online six hours a week.

The final group, Tech Nester, represents 32% of online moms. They’re most into the Internet. They believe the Internet brings their family closer together. They’re online almost 10 hours a week, and they prefer online shopping to in-store shopping.

When we started really digging into the segments, we found that their similarities are more interesting than their differences. They were all after the same basic things. They want to simplify their lives. All trust the Internet. The Internet is where they turn to first. You don’t have to have separate strategies to address each segment.

Nine out of 10 new Internet moms agree that the Internet helps them simplify their lives. 68% visited sites for food and cooking. 61% visited sites for news information. And 56% visited sites for parenting and children’s education information. I’m online researching schools and interviewing teachers.

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They all want information. They think the Internet is the most useful medium for accessing information. And as a source of entertainment, it came in number two. As it did for spending time with their kids. They’ve come to rely on the Internet. 84% said they would miss the Internet the most if it went away. It’s the same with kids and teens.

Moms have always been key decision makers for high-frequency purchases. What’s different is that they’re using the Internet to research and buy online. When I did research seven years ago, this looked so different. You wouldn’t see clothing and apparel. They also have a joint decision-maker role for big-ticket items like travel, financial products, and automobiles. Moms tell us they research big-ticket items online. Often, they research online and buy offline. It’s faster, easier, and more convenient.

Lastly, what kinds of ads are moms looking for given their mindset when they’re online? Relevance equals success. Information is key. Ads that are relevant, include tips and information resonate most.

Knowing all this, our mission going forward is to give something that matters in terms of advertising. 64% embrace ads that provides ideas, tips, and suggestions. We want to connect with family needs and offer real information. Ads that can incorporate all of these elements are really important.

It did take courage years ago to recommend online advertising. Now the Internet is here to stay. To keep that pioneering and adventurous spirit, we need to create advertising that really resonates.

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