I was really psyched to attend the recent EconWomen conference in New York. They had a fabulous line up of speakers talking about women and digital media.
The highlight for me was definitely Wenda (don’t call her Wendy) Harris Millard of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She had the best line of the whole conference. When asked about the most recent quarter’s earnings, she said they were flat, but commented "Flat is the new up." She also had a great line about what the Internet means to women. "The Internet has given women a voice, and they’re screaming their heads off."
Wenda saw two big problems with Internet ads. One – that behavioral targeting isn’t really effective unless you look at the content and context around it.
I couldn’t agree more. What your visitor is doing and what her mood is IS going to affect how she perceives your ad.
She also commented on the success of Uniliver, vs. more traditional consumer goods companies. The success of the Dove brand has been almost entirely due to its Internet strategy.
An interesting comment came in the panel on M&A and Venture Activity. One panelist felt it was bad for a blog to have a strong voice and direct personality of the blogger. He was talking from an acquisitions point of view. (I think his point was, if the property is tied to one individual, without that person, the property loses value or is worthless) Yet another panelist seemed to directly contradict him, saying have a voice and personality was essential to success.
I have to tell you, my favorite sites, websites or blogs, ALL have strong voices. I think it’s essential to success. If you don’t have a point of view, why would anyone be interested?
One other interesting point in the acquisitions and venture panel- what are they looking for in a website or blog? It’s not necessarily the size of the audience (though that does matter) but the power of that audience. By that, I mean, the passion for the subject matter (which can directly correlate to their passion for specific products or demographics)
I think the most useful discussion from this panel was about how to handle negative comments. Heather from Dooce felt like "this is my living room, and you don’t crap in my living room." She actively deletes nasty comments, even threatening to print them out and run them over with her car. (how much do I love this woman). Her reasoning actually makes sense. Her blog is a place where mothers can have honest discussions about motherhood, the good, and especially the bad. She wants to provide a safe space for her readers.
Brendon Holley from Yahoo’s Shine felt like her community does a really good job of policing themselves (as did Emily Smith of Disney Online). And both pointed out they do have guidelines and community hosts who monitor the interactions. I’ve definitely seen cases where if a member is out of line, other members will step in.
One final thought – I don’t know who said it (my apologies) but one of the female panelists commented that the web is a woman’s lifeline to the world. What a wonderful and perfect word choice – a "lifeline." It’s why the web is so incredibly powerful, and is such an important part of any marketers media mix.
Thanks to everyone at EconWomen. It was a fantastic afternoon.