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, 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 Indiwo.com, Tips4me.com and Femina.in.
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.
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.
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."
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.