Internet Advertisers Target Women

Advertisers are beginning to notice that the Internet, long regarded as a hangout for men, is becoming is becoming a place where they can reach women as well.

According to Web measurement firm Media Metrix, women represent 48 percent of all Internet users, but studies by Jupiter Communications, NFO Interactive, and NetSmart America all predict the number of women will surpass the number of men online, if it hasn’t already.

The November statistics from Media Metrix found the types of Web sites with the highest composition of women included toy retailers, women’s portals (iVillage,, etc.), greeting card sites, retail savings sites, and health sites. Sites with a lower concentration of women tend to fall into the following categories: technical content, financial information, sports, news, and streaming media sites.

According to Charles Buchwalter, VP of Media Research for AdRelevance, the ad data reflect the extent to which the online world is beginning to mirror its brick-and-mortar counterpart in appealing to consumers who have both the greatest spending power and the most enthusiasm for the shopping experience.

“The fun and convenience of going online is becoming increasingly important to a wide range of American women, from stay-at-home moms and career women to teens and students,” he said. “When you consider how important these demographics are to advertisers, the Internet may not turn out to be ‘the great equalizer’ after all. On the contrary, women seem well on their way to outnumbering men in a medium that until recently was almost exclusively their own.”

Sites With High and Low Concentrations of Women*
Sites With Higher Concentration of Women Sites With Lower Concentration of Women
Site Unique Users
Site Unique Users
Women 2,901 65 2,794 35 2,887 62 2,423 33 2,440 69 1,323 27 sites 2,089 69 1,308 36 2,026 65 1,266 36 1,912 73 sportsline usa 1,063 32 1,848 64 money central 960 34 1,812 63 891 33 1,787 66 887 35 1,723 65 723 26
* women 18 and over
Source: Media Metrix

Promotion through Internet advertising is one way sites geared toward women build an audience. A look at the campaign schedules of the ten most popular women’s sites by AdRelevance reveals a trend toward cyclical advertising, with bursts of impressions delivered in short three- or four-week intervals. At the high points of their cycles, these sites are ranked among the top 20 percent of online advertisers. In fact, and iVillage both ranked in the top 1 percent of all online advertisers at the peak of their most recent schedules.

By combining data from Media Metrix and AdRelevance, it shows that women’s sites are advertising mainly on sites with a high concentration of female visitors.

Demographic of Media Buys
Advertiser Impressions Percent
Index sites 7,100,000 66 159
ivillage sites 41,000,000 49 118 19,000,000 48 116 3,100,000 48 116 8,300,000 47 113 3,500,000 47 113 1,900,000 46 111 69,000,000 45 108 4,100,000 44 106 8,300,000 34 82
Source: AdRelevance

Why is the female audience so desirable? According to a survey conducted by, Harris Interactive, and Proctor & Gamble, women control 80 percent of all purchasing decisions, and 73 percent of women regularly access product and service information online. Nearly 90 percent of the women surveyed said they were the primary healthcare decision-makers.

The top advertising-supported women’s sites attract a distinct set of advertisers. Women’s sites deliver a much higher portion of impressions for pet supply vendors, personal care product manufacturers, home and garden manufacturers, and kids and family Web sites.

Shares of Ad Impressions
Industry Segment Women’s
Pet Supply Vendors 14.6% 0.4% 14.2%
Personal Care Products 7.4% 0.4% 7.0%
Department Stores 7.3% 9.0% -1.7%
Home & Garden 7.0% 0.5% 6.5%
Kids & Family Sites 5.7% 0.2% 5.5%
Full Service
5.1% 2.4% 2.7%
Software Manufacturers 4.0% 1.9% 2.1%
Drug & Toiletry Vendors 3.7% 2.2% 1.5%
Health & Fitness Web Sites 3.4% 1.9% 1.5%
Book, Movie & Music Vendors 3.1% 1.5% 1.5%
Source: AdRelevance

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