Do women click with advertisers online?

By Tarana Khan , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | August 25, 2008
Women make up only 18 per cent of the online population. Are advertisers interested in talking to this select audience?

They are & #BANNER1 & # the favourite target segment of marketers, but when it comes to the Internet, where are the women? The number of Indian women on the Net is still low, but significant enough for advertisers to take note. So, how seriously are advertisers taking women online?

How many are there?
Of the 35 million active Internet users in India, only about 6.2 million are women, says the India Online 2008 report by Internet research firm JuxtConsult. Surprisingly, 42 per cent of these women are educated housewives. Most of them are educated, but have discontinued working for various reasons.

Mrutyunjay Mishra
Working women comprise 40 per cent of this segment and are the best socioeconomic profiles for advertisers to target. Though almost all women online are well educated and comfortable in English, working women have a higher income, with 19 per cent having monthly household incomes of more than Rs 30,000, 69 per cent coming from SEC A and B, and 25 per cent of them owning a car. Around 13 per cent of the women are students and the rest do not fall under any of these categories.

Mrutyunjay Mishra, co-founder and director, JuxtConsult, thinks that the numbers are not too bad. "Considering that the participation of women in the workforce is 11 per cent, these numbers are encouraging. Most of these women are housewives who have left studies or jobs to get married. Also, many of the working women don't have access to a computer at work."

Where's the content?
Content for Indian women is very fragmented on the Net. On one hand, there are branded communities such as Sunsilk's Gang of Girls, Whisper's Being Girl and Meow FM's Meri Meow. In addition, most horizontal portals such as Indiatimes and MSN have sections dedicated to women. Far fewer in number are full-fledged women's portals such as Network18's, and

Suvarna Goel
Suvarna Goel, marketing manager, Indiwo, says, "I think more women are reading content on the Net as compared to just checking emails or doing small transactions earlier. Indiwo attracts five-six lakh visitors daily. We also have a set of advertisers such as Nina Ricci, Hindustan Unilever Ltd and Amante, who are satisfied with the campaigns we have done for them."

Local sites also have to compete with international sites and other sites on the Internet, especially the social networks.

According to exclusive figures made available to afaqs! by the US based Internet research firm, comScore, most of the women's sites visited by the online population in India (men and women) were international. According to the figures, the total number of unique visitors to sites in the women's category by the Indian audience in June was 4.2 million.

Aditya Khanna
Topping the list is Glam Media (which owns the fashion site, with 1.8 million unique visitors. Other portals on the site include, Yahoo!'s Shine (, Conde Nast Publications (,, and others) and The only two Indian sites to figure in the top 15 list are, with 80,000 visitors, and, with 70,000 visitors.

According to Aditya Khanna, business head, ad network, Tyroo (invested in by Yahoo!), "The content online is largely dominated by entertainment (movies and music) and news. On offline media like print and television, this similar content is also consumed by women, so I wouldn't say that there is less content for the women audience."

Are advertisers interested?
If the content for women is not in shortage, how are advertisers taking it? Not many of them create women specific online campaigns, except for FMCG and lifestyle companies.

Chaya Brian Carvalho
Chaya Brian Carvalho, managing director and chief executive officer of digital agency BC Web Wise, says, "Advertisers are definitely interested in targeting women online. Since there isn't enough content being published online targeting women, advertisers have the opportunity and therefore prefer creating their own sites which cater to the audience. Mostly, it's the FMCG companies that are focusing on building good URLs for women." The agency has designed sites for brands such as Sunsilk, Lux, Silk n Shine and Asian Paints.

Not all brands go for this option though. Since there aren't enough portals for women, advertisers are happy targeting women on social networks and other sites they visit often. After all, online campaigns allow them to pinpoint the exact gender, age group, location and behaviour they are targeting.

Khanna says, "There are a few sites which one can target solely from a content point of view. Cooking, parenting and health content attract a large number of women. But our most important way of targeting women would be by utilising data that the audience leaves with a publisher. For instance, this may be done on our social networking channel, which comprises sites such as Facebook, Orkut and LinkedIn, because users leave their demographic information on these. Similarly, one can also do the same by using technology to observe the user's behaviour on our network and predict that the user is a woman."

Sanjay Tripathy
Advertisers such as financial and mobile companies are also beginning to look at this segment. Women are one of the target customers of HDFC Standard Life Insurance. Sanjay Tripathy, executive vice-president and head, marketing, HDFC Standard Life Insurance, says, "With contextual targeting, we can expose the advertisement to the customer when he/ she is actually consuming relevant content in the media space. Though working women form a small part of the overall online audience, it is still the best medium for us to reach them in a cost effective manner."

Lack of content and low penetration notwithstanding, marketers cannot ignore the sizeable chunk of women on the Internet. As the penetration of broadband in homes increases, they can utilise the targeting power of the medium to talk to an audience which holds the decision making power in most households.