Moms: Unlikely Trailblazers

Anyone who is a mom is no doubt a professional multi-tasker, so it is not surprising to see moms embrace anything that can help simplify their chaotic, task filled days.  Case in point:  the smartphone.

Recent studies have cited the love affair with moms and their smartphones, and no matter the source, they all seem to point to the same conclusion:  they are a match made in heaven.

Moms depend on their smartphones to stay organized and streamlined, and now that they have them, they show no signs of giving them up.  As the technology advances, moms continue to grow with it, applying more and more tasks to their smartphones.

According to a recent study conducted by Greystripe, a mobile ad network, 66% of moms use their smartphone during the shopping process, with 36% citing its use specifically for price comparison. Another 45% said they use their device for locating the nearest store.  Sounds pretty savvy doesn’t it?  Moms have come a long way from the days when learning to program the VCR was a skill left for dad.

In The Edison Research/Arbitron Multimedia & Internet survey from January 2011, we asked respondents to compare themselves to their peers when it comes to buying or trying new products and services. While the moms who own smartphones in our study didn’t view themselves as exceptionally early adopters, they did view themselves as faster to buy/try than the average.   22% of our smartphone moms said they are likely to buy/try new products/services before others, with 8% of those saying they would be first. While 30% of the total sample of respondents 12+ said they are usually the last to buy/try new products, only 15% of smartphone moms classified themselves that way.

The hectic life of a mom in not likely to slow down anytime soon, which means there will be many more opportunities to adopt mobile technology and all it has to offer.  Smartphone implementation by moms will undoubtedly continue and not just be a trend, but a standard part of a mom’s daily life.

Increasingly, It’s The Daddy Party Vs. The Mommy Party

While the ‘gender gap’ has existed for decades, with Democrats consistently performing much better among women than with men, an even wider chasm has developed between the genders among those who have children under 18 living in their households – Moms vs. Dads.

According to the exit polls conducted by Edison Research from the 2010 elections, Moms voted for the Democrats in the House elections 52-44, while Dads supported the Republicans by a whopping 57-40. That’s a full 25 points on the difference (-17 to +8), up from 12 points in the 2008 exit polls (Moms 56D-41R, Dads 50D-47R) and from 10 points in the 2006 exit polls (Moms 53D-45R. Dads 50R-48D).

us house vote

Chris Matthews, the host of the MSNBC political talk show “Hardball”, long ago came up with the meme of the Democratic Party as the “Mommy Party” and the Republicans as the “Daddy Party.” As he tells it, Democrats want to hug you and kiss you and tell you everything will be all right. Republicans want to spank you and send you to bed without your supper to toughen you up. In 2004, or so it is argued, Bush squeaked out his victory in part because enough Americans were looking for someone tough enough to deal with the monsters who caused the 9/11 attacks, and they simply didn’t see Kerry as the person to deliver that. Edison’s exit polls seem to imply that Moms are looking for Moms, and Dads for Dads, in an ever increasing fashion.

Hammers and Nails

hammer_and_nails.jpgHere at Edison, we use a lot of tools to generate the best consumer insights possible for our clients. When we started back in 1994, most of our work was telephone-based survey research and focus groups. Since then, we have incorporated Internet surveys, online qualitative research, consumer exit polling, social media monitoring and dozens of other methods into our repertoire. The Internet, in particular, has changed our business irrevocably, and made available a wide variety of options to reach consumers where they work and play online.

Yet, we still do a lot of telephone work here at Edison, and though our Exit Polling back-end systems would rival NASA’s for complexity, the heart of that particular effort is still thousands of local interviewers with clipboards. The key for us is to be able to deploy “boots on the ground,” even if the “ground” is online, to capture opinions whenever and wherever they occur.

I note this because there have been a lot of recent innovations in mining unstructured online data for market research purposes. As social media monitoring tools like Radian 6, Trackur and Social Mention continue to expand their coverage and capabilities, using those tools to discern what consumers are saying and doing online is becoming a more viable source for consumer insights, and one that no competent CMO or brand manager should ignore. We recommend social media research and use these tools on behalf of our clients whenever appropriate.

Social media research is attractive on many levels, not the least of which is that on some of those levels it’s free. Anyone can set up Google Alerts or use other freely-available tools to begin mining the social web, and even the paid tools available aren’t onerously expensive for the vast majority of companies. Because unstructured data online is “free,” and free is good, it’s easy to make the leap to thinking that social media research is a replacement for other methods and tools. Like any tool, however, social media research is great at some things, and lousy at others – just as telephone surveys are. The key is to focus on the best way to achieve your research goal – period – and not the best way you can use a given tool.

Historically, new technologies sometimes obviate the need for old ones, but just as often they cause the old ones to elevate their game and get better. Focus groups, for instance, will never be the same – they aren’t going away, but they have certainly changed for the better, and are now just as likely to take place in the field or online as they are behind a two-way mirror. The Internet has made our jobs as researchers different (not easier) and gives us the tools to provide richer insights for our clients, which makes us all better. We have to be careful, however, not to fall in love with any one of these tools.

I write this because lately we have gotten requests from some companies not to provide them with consumer insights, or decision support, but to give them an “online survey,” or some other specific tool. I actually got back from one prospective client that they didn’t choose our proposal because we didn’t employ a punch card system (!) they were accustomed to using. If an online survey is the best way to attack a given research problem, we recommend it. If it isn’t, we don’t. It’s a balance, of course, between the needs of the client, the client’s budget and the standards for quality research, but this balance is always best achieved when we start with the end goal in mind, and not with a specific tool.

Still, many companies are definitely doing it right. For instance, we are thrilled to have a partnership with SeeSaw Networks, a leading place-based media company, who just yesterday announced a solution to reach Moms wherever they go with messaging that is synchronized to their activities and the venues they are frequenting. Measuring place-based media and other out-of-home advertising is a tricky business, and in this particular case the best solution is a surprisingly “low-tech” one – we employ the same network of over 10,000 trained interviewers we use for the National Election Exit Polls to conduct methodologically sound, rigorously sampled place-based research. Again, it’s about capturing consumers where they are, and in this particular partnership, that’s at shops, grocery stores and fitness centers and anywhere else they shop, work and play.

One of my favorite cliches in the world is this: when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Relying too heavily on mining unstructured data, self-selected Internet polls or even telephone surveys can very easily lead you down this path. Not everything is a nail.

SeeSaw Announces Solution To Engage Moms and Families; Partners with Edison for Effectiveness Research

Exclusive Inventory, Retail Activation, Optimization, New Creative Vehicles and 3rd Party Research Now Packaged For Advertisers

San Francisco, CA August 31, 2010 – SeeSaw Networks, a leading digital place-based media company, today introduced an innovative end-to-end solution that provides marketers the most effective way to reach and activate moms and families. This new offering includes exclusive ad inventory at venues frequented by moms and families; new creative vehicles that deliver contextually relevant messages to engage this audience; and a packaged end-to-end solution to optimally plan, execute and measure the efficacy of digital place-based advertising to this sought after demographic.

“SeeSaw is widely known as the Life Pattern company” said Monte Zweben, Founder and Chairman of the Board, SeeSaw Networks. “But now, in addition to intercepting audiences with ads as they work, play and socialize, SeeSaw is delivering exclusive new creative vehicles that engage and activate Moms and Families”.

SeeSaw’s Moms and Families Life Pattern Network offers over 18,000 digital place-based media venues with aggregate weekly traffic of more than 116 million moms. Boosted by recent strategic relationships with PlayNetwork, opening access to venues such as Steve Madden, Ashley Furniture, Journeys Kidz, ecko TV, MyGym, The Little Gym, JW Tumbles and Kidville; and with Cabco TV Kart TM Network to resell its premium grocery-store venues and carts in top national grocery chains, the SeeSaw Mom and Family Network combines over 40 individual networks, delivering over 50 million impressions per week.

“We have already seen the value of partnering with SeeSaw,” said Lon Troxel, Chairman and CEO of PlayNetwork. “Our retailers are excited to participate in new innovative advertising campaigns that engage their customers when they are out and about -shopping, eating or socializing.”

“By identifying Moms’ and families’ regular routines and behaviors, or Life Patterns, we are able to reach and engage prospects where and when they are likely to be receptive to branded messaging. By ensuring the content is contextually relevant through our new creative vehicles, we have the opportunity to add value to a Mom’s day, and positively influence her brand behavior. In effect, our goal is to become an important part of the fabric of Moms’ lives”, said Zweben.

SeeSaw Networks’ new creative vehicles include:

  • Messages synchronized with venue to maximize contextual relevance.
  • Bluetooth triggered ads in grocery stores, synchronizing promotional messages with in-store location.
  • Branded content and programming on select networks.
  • Social media extension enabling customers to fan, follow or respond to brand promotions on popular social media platforms via mobile devices.
  • Full ‘venue integration’ at certain locations with experiential media including sampling and activity integration.

The SeeSaw solution also utilizes, SeeSaw Network’s demand side platform for optimizing campaigns with precision targeting. allows SeeSaw media specialists to precisely target geographies, networks, and demographics. is unique in that it selects which locations should optimally be in a plan. Traditional planning methods select or reject entire categories of venues resulting inefficient plans. For example, in planning a highly targeted campaign for moms, will select individual locations that index over a specified level (e.g.150) for moms while meeting the budget criteria and omit locations below the index threshold.

Finally, the solution integrates research from Edison Research, a leading provider of consumer research with over 10,000 experienced interviewers, to assess overall campaign effectiveness, including brand / ad awareness, attitude shifts, and changes in purchase intent. SeeSaw has partnered with Edison Research to evaluate the effectiveness of several campaigns, across 6 different industry vertical markets, at more than 20 different types of venues. An example of the integrated offering can be seen in SeeSaw’s previous announcement of campaign effectiveness research conducted by Edison Research following a place-based advertising campaign by SeeSaw with Delta Airlines.

For more information on SeeSaw Networks, please visit

About SeeSaw Networks

SeeSaw offers the most comprehensive digital place-based media solution in the marketplace. Through its national network, SeeSaw delivers advertising in places where people go in their daily lives – such as gas stations, kids’ gyms, coffee shops, grocery stores, medical offices, and health clubs. SeeSaw reaches more people in more places than any other digital placed-based video network, combining over 70 digital signage networks across over 40 different types of locations in over 50,000 venues nationally. SeeSaw’s network delivers over 150 million weekly gross impressions, more than a primetime TV spot. SeeSaw’s demand side platform,, optimizes plans across geographies, venues, and demographics within budget constraints. SeeSaw’s media specialists use to customize campaigns with unprecedented precision and cost effectiveness. SeeSaw offers a variety of creative vehicles to advertisers, including ad spots, sponsorships of custom programming and content, brand integration, and experiential media, including sampling and activity integration. SeeSaw integrates research from Edison Research to close the loop and assess overall campaign effectiveness. With SeeSaw, advertisers can engage hard-to-reach people by intercepting them in their daily life patterns where they work play and socialize.

About Edison Research

Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to out-of-home media companies, radio and television stations, newspapers, cable networks, record labels, Internet companies and other media organizations. Edison Research is also the sole provider of election exit poll data for the six major news organizations: ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the Associated Press. Edison’s global network of 10,000 interviewers execute hundreds of consumer exit poll and out-of-home media measurement projects every year, providing valuable decision support for marketers, advertisers and brands. Edison also conducts strategic and opinion research for a broad array of companies including Time Warner, Google, Yahoo!, Sony Music, Princeton University, Northwestern University, Universal Music Group, Time Life Music and the Voice of America. Edison Research has a sixteen year history of thought-leadership in media research, and has provided services to successful media properties in South America, Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe.

Mother’s Day for Tech Moms

We’ve said it before…moms are a marketing powerhouse. Their influence on purchasing power is changing not only the way companies advertise, but also what they advertise. With that oh-so- special day devoted to mom coming up, what better opportunity to roll out the stuff moms really want? Aside from the winter holidays of Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza, Mother’s Day is the second largest U.S. consumer spending holiday according to The National Retail Foundation (NRF). What’s the must have this year for moms?
Traditionally, Mother’s Day is about flowers, brunch and an endearing craft made by a child. While moms still love a homemade macaroni necklace, the days of wanting pretty trinkets and fresh cut bouquets seem to be fading fast. Connected, multi-tasking and savvy, the evolving new breed of moms opts for practicality.
According to the study 21st Century Mom: Tech Mom conducted by, moms want gadgets. The study identified a wish list of 10 gadgets for 2010 that included a laptop, Nintendo Wii Fit, iPhone, camcorder, GPS and even an external hard drive/back up.
The study notes that tech purchase criteria changes for women with the onset of motherhood. Geared toward efficiency instead of entertainment, moms want what will help them organize, streamline and schedule their daily lives. They now not only embrace technology, they seek it because it helps them stay in control and master their tasks. In addition, gaming systems like the Wii Fit offer the opportunity to engage parents and children together as a family while digital camcorders allow for easy capture, upload and sharing of family memories via Facebook. So will Tech Moms have their wishes come true? Maybe, maybe not.
The NRF, in their 2010 Mother’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, reported that nearly two-thirds (65.2%) of 2010 Mother’s Day celebrants will buy flowers, totaling $1.9 billion. That top category is followed by dining out, jewelry, clothing and spa trips. Consumer electronics is at the bottom with shoppers estimated to spend about $906 million. That is not a small amount of money, but compared to what is being spent on flowers, it pales. Old habits die hard and everyone assumes flowers are the safe gift to give. In a few more years, I would expect to see consumer electronics gain a little ground on that list of ad categories.
The question for advertisers used to be how to target moms. But in today’s marketing world which is driven by social media, blogs and digital advertising, it’s no longer difficult, since we know moms are frequently online. The challenge has shifted to a new focus — giving moms what they want. Electronics and gadgets that used to be for that dad holiday in June have now made their way into ads and chatter for Mother’s Day shopping. It gives electronics retailers another opportunity to serve up more specific ads towards women in hopes of making their Mother’s Day want list. And while there is a presence of ads for cell phones, computers and the like, they are still being trumped by the efforts of the online florists who dominate. Maybe there will come a day when you will have the option of adding on a Blackberry instead of a balloon to your flower arrangement. Now that would be genius.