Senior Vice President of Marketing
NBC-Universal’s iVillage is in a unique position to understand women and moms. Not only does the site have access to a largely female user base, which allows the company to discover moms’ opinions and habits, but it also markets to them and connects with them via the site and social networks. Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, iVillage’s senior vice president of marketing, spoke to eMarketer’s Kimberly Maul about the challenges of marketing to moms.
eMarketer: There are surveys and data that show that moms tend to overindex on social network usage, smartphone usage and tablet ownership compared to the rest of the population. Why do moms seem to be ahead of the curve in this and in using social media on their mobile devices?
Catherine Balsam-Schwaber: From the research that we have done at iVillage, one of the things that we see is that women are more time-compressed than ever. And when I’m talking about women, I’m talking about women who are on iVillage, and they are predominantly moms. We’ve found that women, on average, spend about an hour a day interacting with digital, which includes mobile, doing non-work-, non-school-related activities.
That’s one hour over the course of the day: 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there. She’s on late at night or early in the morning. Mobile is a very natural way to find the time to interact with the content or the people that you want to interact with digitally. In particular, moms are on the go so much. You may or may not have time to be interacting with your friends or content on your laptop or on your PC, so a lot of moms are using mobile more than ever to stay connected.
eMarketer: Why do moms choose to turn to their mobile device to access social media instead of sitting down at the computer and taking time to do that?
“I rarely have a full hour to sit down and interact with Facebook on my computer.”
Balsam-Schwaber: It’s this idea of being able to do it wherever you are. From the iVillage perspective, we find that an ever-growing portion of our traffic and audience is accessing iVillage through mobile. They’re accessing it at the moment when they have time. Again, it goes back to, if I only have an hour a day, where I can be doing things that are not work and not school-related, I’m going to find that time on the go. I rarely have a full hour to sit down and interact with Facebook on my computer.
eMarketer: When you are marketing to moms via social media do you try to create separate marketing initiatives for desktop vs. mobile or is it still one and the same right now?
Balsam-Schwaber: We are evolving our strategy just like everybody else. One of the things that we found is that about 20% of our traffic now comes from mobile, and that’s a big shift even in the last year. We tailor the content based on the audiences we are interacting with. For example, if we’re pushing something out through Facebook, we tailor it to the Facebook audience overall as opposed to differentiating between Facebook online and Facebook mobile.
Particularly for moms, when they’re thinking about interacting with Facebook, they need the same feed everywhere that they go—it’s the ubiquity of the experience [that matters]. They know that they can get the content on their phone or on their PC and that it’s the same. They can have all their friends wherever they want them. They can have access to the content that they want. They can get the solutions that they need. Even if it’s not exactly the same experience, because it needs to be optimized in a different way, you can still find everything that you would be looking for and that’s what they've come to expect.
eMarketer: Is mobile more about reaching moms in the moment while social is more about word-of-mouth and sharing? Are there different goals and is it a challenge to bring them together?
“Even if it’s not exactly the same experience, because it needs to be optimized in a different way, you can still find everything that you would be looking for and that’s what they’ve come to expect.”
Balsam-Schwaber: We’re fortunate that it seems like we’re not finding it a challenge, but we’re also following our consumer. Women are asking us for the ability to be able to interact, whether it’s on their iVillage community or interacting with iVillage through Facebook. As with so many digital publishers, our programming strategy and our marketing strategy come ever closer together. That’s a lot of what this is about for us—it’s the delivery of content and making sure that we’re giving women the content and solutions that they need wherever they are. That is really our marketing strategy when it comes to social mobile media.
A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here.
Check out today’s other articles, “Social Media Begins to Drive the Political Conversation” and “In Germany, Users Interact With Brands on Social Media.”