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Are men more susceptible to online advertising than women?

3rd September 2015 Print

We’re told regularly that advertising is having a negative effect on women, that it promotes body confidence issues and convinces them to buy products that they really don’t need. But we rarely consider the effect it has on men, or whether they are more susceptible to advertisements when browsing online. 

Advertising for men and women is obviously tackled differently, to appeal to what marketers consider the most important aspects of each gender’s lives. Mitchell and Webb sum this concept up perfectly in one minute. 

Online advertising is approached in numerous ways compared to traditional billboards and print. It can stretch out across social media, on the banner ads you notice at the top of website home pages (unless you use Adblocker) and in sponsored content on leading websites. 

Instagram and Pinterest are utilising sponsored posts, with fashion sites and brands pushing their content in front of people browsing their feeds who might not notice the small ‘sponsored’ tag at the top of the photo. Online advertising has a way of reaching you, without you even realising it’s there. 

Let’s say a man has been browsing the Dobell website for a new suit. He decides not to make that transaction today but goes to browse somewhere else, this site then features sidebar ads, featuring images of the suits he looked at. 

It reminds him that he really should make that purchase. He goes back to the site and does just that. Women are apparently less likely to respond to this, because there is a lack of emotion behind the advertisement. 

This is known as retargeting and works using your cookies, so the websites you visit can see when you left their site and use Google ads to target you in order to tempt you back. Advertising is supposed to call out to you, making you aware of things you ‘need’ and this works seamlessly with male viewers. 

If Toronto-based ad agency Juniper Park’s research is anything to go by, women prefer a more emotional experience when it comes to advertising. They also claim that advertisers must think about conveying how the woman will use the product in an advertisement, otherwise she won’t consider it. 

This means that the more functional, reactive online advertisement really caters to men, after all it’s based on things they have already looked at and calls their attention back to it – like that ‘nagging’ text message from their wife to pick up milk, if we’re going to be really stereotypical about things. 

You will notice while watching any commercial, whether it’s between breaks on Corrie or on YouTube intro ads, that men are offered advertisements full of strong, sophisticated role models who embody the word ‘macho’ while women have to contend with soft looking, overly feminine ideals throughout. 

However, a survey by ad company Leo Burnett Worldwide did uncover statistics that found that 79% of men do not relate with the representatives in advertising today. And this might be why they could be more receptive to online advertising. 

In conclusion, we will never truly know if men respond differently to online advertising to women, we can only study the ideas above, from previous research on the matter – which to many may feel a little restricted to gender stereotypes.