Ad:tech: Technology Smashes Stereotypes

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NEW YORK -- An elderly man in shorts, T-shirt and unlaced shoes, sitting on a park bench behind his RV and working on a notebook computer enabled with wireless Internet access.


That's a portrait of one of the new American consumers.


"I call him Billy Bob WiFi," said Kelly Mooney, president of Resource Interactive, Columbus, OH. "It's so easy to say this is a couch potato. The consumer today is different, so old stereotypes don't necessarily apply. We need to ask what's the role of technology. Technology has empowered a power shift."


Mooney delivered her comments while moderating a panel yesterday at the ad:tech New York 2004 interactive marketing show.


Her book, "The Ten Demandments: Rules to Live by in the Age of the Demanding Customer," covered the technology-inspired power shift. The book, co-authored with Laura Bergheim, postulates that a more informed customer combined with rising expectations leads to additional demands.


"From the customer's perspective, that's the one thing that's not going to change: Our expectations are not going to go down," Mooney said.


Consider technology's role in women's lives. Five years ago, only 10 percent of women asked gave their e-mail addresses, and these usually were shared with family. Now, 95 percent of women have their own primary e-mail addresses.


That finding amazed panel member Tracy Chapman, co-director of brand consulting at Just Ask a Woman, a New York marketing consultancy.


"Every conversation we have, the Internet constantly comes up," she said.


Chapman sought to dispel myths about women and how those affect the Internet. The old rule was, women liked to shop. Time was not a factor. Today, women are vigilante shoppers. Expectations are high online. Speed is essential. And customer experience online must be better than it is offline.


"They're going out there, they're getting what they want and they're not taking any prisoners," she said.


Another old rule was that women like to talk. But women today share information with their online communities. The chatting online is purposeful, Chapman noted. Successful online communities are based on women's life stages, such as WeightWatchers.com, parenting resource UrbanBaby.com and TheKnot.com, she said.


"She's not going online for the sake of going online," she said. "They have enough friends in real life."


Realizing this life-stage trend, TheKnot.com, a site for those about to marry, made a logical extension in October: the launch of TheNest.com for newlyweds. The new site targets the 2.3 million "just married" couples nationwide each year.


Another rule was that women are overworked. And now they work under even greater time constraints. Women work 10 hours more per week than in 1987, Chapman said.


Data indicate that Internet use outranks that of other media, she said.


Non-working women spent 3.8 hours daily online versus 2.8 hours for working women. But non-working women averaged 3.4 hours watching television vs. 2.5 hours for those working. Non-working women averaged 1.4 hours daily listening to radio compared with 1.7 hours for working women.


Reading figured considerably lower in terms of media consumption. Non-working women averaged 0.7 hours daily reading magazines vs. 0.6 hours for working women. And non-working women averaged a half-hour reading newspapers versus 0.6 hours for working women.


The conclusion: The best way for advertisers to reach women is through the Internet.


Women of all types -- employed with or without children and those who are at home with kids or without -- spend five to 10 minutes online in the early morning. They spend 15 to 20 minutes on the Web in the morning, especially mothers. Working women spend 10 to 25 minutes online from late afternoon to evening. Overall, use varies from five minutes to 25 minutes through all dayparts.


"You can reach her at any part of the day and engage her online throughout the day," Chapman said.


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