Smartphones and Moms are like peanut butter and jelly – they are good on their own, but together they are a perfect pairing. Moms now depend on smartphones and the devices are proving to be as vital as air and water for survival of a typical day. We know from our own data in the Moms and Media 2011 study and from other industry research that smartphone ownership among Moms is soaring. So I wasn’t so surprised when I was recently at two different events where the “mobile tech” dynamic was unmistakably in play.
My children are seven and four, so I’m regularly involved in the typical play group discussions and I know how powerful that “mom word-of-mouth” can be. However, these most recent interactions tapped into my inner researcher and I couldn’t help but mentally note what was happening.
In the first example, four moms, all with young children, were discussing the apps on their smartphones. When the conversation turned specifically to grocery shopping, one mom had us captivated when she talked about her positive experience with a shopping-from-home service offered by a grocery store. What is so telling about this anecdote is that by the end of the night, two of the other moms had already decided to give it try and had told two more people about it. Kudos to that grocery store, for this is exactly what marketers are told to do: get moms to talk about their product or service.
The other takeaway from that experience is that app download and usage is very relevant to moms, especially for utility. The eMarketer report, “Moms: Riding the Mobile Wave,” cites data indicating that moms are actually downloading more apps than non- moms. According to research conducted by Women at NBCU, moms who do download apps, download more of them than the average smartphone owner. Furthermore, moms with children 0 to 5 years old have the most apps, with 18.69 on average, compared to non-moms who average 17.8 apps.
In my other “a-ha” moment, I was at a party that took place in a restaurant. At one point I noticed five (!) children all ranging in age from 4 to 7 years old, playing on mom’s smartphone. I have seen this many times in individual cases but it was very eye-opening to see them all simultaneously, nonchalantly playing on the phones. This was clearly a regular occurrence for all of these kids and their parents. In the 2011 study “21st Century Mobile Moms Report” from Babycenter, it was noted that 52% of moms have ten or more apps downloaded and about 25% of those apps were for her kids.
It is evident that the dependence on smartphones will continue, and as the mobile technology advances to make more apps available, smartphone ownership among moms will likely rise even faster. Moms need apps almost as much as they need shoes…almost.
…At least, according to this article in the Boston Herald, which cites data from our Moms and Media: 2011 study about Moms and their social media usage. The article goes on to note the following:
“It’s undeniable that moms are shaping how people of all ages are using Facebook — moving away from the site’s early voyeuristic tendencies and toward relationship-building and information-sharing. As moms’ numbers on Facebook continue to grow, so will their impact. And you can bet it will be bigger than making sure we don’t drop any F-bombs in our status updates.”
With busy lifestyles and evolving technology geared toward everything mobile, getting a message to Mom via traditional means is becoming dated and often futile. We know from our Moms and Media: 2011 study that Moms are heavy Internet users, spending more than 2.5 hours online per day. Logically, getting to them on the Internet is the first step. However, the standard ads and typical banners are likely to get overlooked, especially on an already crowded site.
Even if she does respond to that ad, it is not necessarily going to leave a distinct impression on Mom. After all, she’s not looking for the sales pitch; she’s looking for the experience, something special to pass along – in other words, something she can share. YouTube seems to have this on its radar and is making an effort to bring in more big name advertisers, according this recent piece on nytimes.com.
Of course, conversion of advertising dollars from traditional sources to online videos will be an uphill battle. Moms, however, could be likely to embrace more modern strategies – especially when they are streamlined into an Internet experience that makes them laugh, cry or even gasp. Moms respond to that interaction – and will forward video content to a friend if it’s creative and worthy enough.
The Moms and Media: 2011 data shows that Moms do use online video (particularly YouTube) and this seems to be a rising trend, based on our tracking information. Moms are already highly familiar with this outlet, giving a boost to its advertising chances, and are, in fact, using it regularly. In our study, nearly one-third of Moms with Internet access said they had watched video programming on YouTube in the last week, and almost half noted doing so in the last month.
Another supporting factor that may help online video advertising take off with Moms is that they are not watching commercials on their DVRs. Our research supports what the nytimes.com article noted about DVR watchers fast forwarding through commercials – in fact, Moms are especially guilty of this: 82% of moms who often use DVRs said they fast forward almost every time they watch time-shifted programming on their DVR.
Moms And Media: 2011 is a new report derived from the Edison Research/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia Research Series. This study examines the media habits of this highly sought after demographic group – where they are ahead of the curve, and where they lag. Since we have tracked this data since 1998, the report examines at key trends and how those behaviors have changed over time. The report also compares Moms to Dads, as well as to the general population, with a focus on what makes Moms and their behaviors associated with both online and offline media consumption unique.
Key findings include:
Moms have come to depend on the Internet for everyday life as their most “essential” medium.
Moms spend more time online daily than the general population, crossing the 2.5 hour threshold in 2011.
Moms are highly active on Facebook, with 62% of American mothers having a profile on the popular social networking service.
Smartphone ownership among Moms has exploded in two years, with 36% reporting smartphone ownership (compared to 31% for the general population).
How the study was conducted
A total of 2,020 persons were interviewed to investigate Americans’ use of digital platforms and new media. From January 4 to February 2, 2011, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older chosen at random from a national sample of Arbitron’s Fall 2010 survey diarykeepers and through random digit dialing (RDD) sampling in geographic areas where Arbitron diarykeepers were not available for the survey. Diarykeepers represent 46% of the completed interviews and RDD sampled respondents represent 54% of the completed interviews. The study includes a total of 480 cell phone interviews.
Facebook. The majority of Americans are on it, as shown in our Edison Research/Arbitron Social Habit 2011 study. And as social networking continues to take hold across all demos, the popular site faces new challenges and questions about privacy and the use of images for advertising purposes.
I recently came across an Advertising Age article that cited recent litigation against Facebook from parents concerned about the use of their children’s images when “liking” brands or products, and if use of the site constitutes consent. The argument is that the social networking giant is actually breaking the law and using names and images to endorse products or services without user approval – especially when the user is a minor.
Since “liking” something on Facebook generates the user’s name and profile image to show not only to his or her friends but also to anyone viewing the page that the user liked, the site is a marketer’s dream. That same core marketing strategy, however, is raising red flags to parents, because there is no parental consent for the use of profile images in promoting a page. A user can manage their privacy settings to keep their info contained among friends only on a Facebook News Feed, but there are no such settings in place for the actual page that was liked. Facebook calls this “connecting” to a brand or product, but is it actually endorsing?
We will have to wait and see how these legal battles play out for Facebook and if the courts are more sensitive because it involves many users who are under eighteen years old. Regardless of the outcome, the privacy issue is not likely to go away. Whether it be personal photos, likes or general information to third parties, users and particularly parents will continue to question the intent and procedures of Facebook.
In our forthcoming Moms and Media 2011 report, which is derived from the 2011 Edison Research/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia study, we looked at Facebook usage of Moms as well as their concerns about privacy on the site. We found that Moms are very active on Facebook, with 62% saying they have a profile page. Interestingly, despite their active presence on the site, Moms do echo these privacy concerns. About 50% said they are Very Concerned or Somewhat Concerned about their personal information on Facebook. Will there become a point when the concern outweighs the site interest? All we can say is it hasn’t happened yet.