The Church-State Divide

A hot topic among editors and publishers both cyber and paper these days is how the traditional lines between content and ad messaging are being blurred. While the American Society of Magazine Editors polices the separation of the two in the magazine world, it's been a little more like the Wild West online.

As digital content matures and attracts broader audiences, increasing shares of marketing budgets and more frequent requests from advertisers for content integration, pressure is on for similar restrictions on the Web. Why? To protect the consumer, of course; to make it clear to her when she is reading "unbiased" editorial content versus "paid" and therefore slanted messaging.

Is this necessary?

When it comes to moms, the answer is, not so much. Moms pride themselves on being savvy consumers who can sniff out a poseur brand. Remember how your mom always seemed to know when you were being less than truthful? And how she said you had to behave in a trustworthy manner if you wanted more freedom? Those rules apply now that you're all grown up and trying to sell stuff to her. You can use content to engage her, with the following caveats:

1. Don't be a name dropper

Moms give more cred to advice from marketers than that from celebrity moms. Be the conduit for information from other moms and from your own experts, but be wary of relying on star power.

Q: How interested are you in tips and ideas for moms from the following sources online? (Answering extremely or somewhat interested):

Other moms like me, 92%
Authorities and experts, 82%
Marketers of products I buy, 49%
Celebrity moms, 19%

2. Do stick to your knitting

The marketers that have her trust have worked to earn it, by making good products, offering relevant advice within their area of expertise, and ideas that she can access on their websites. Don't try to be the voice of authority in areas where she's not used to seeing you.

Q: How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? (Answering agree strongly or somewhat):

There are some companies who have earned my trust as a source of information, 83%
I'll use advice and tips from marketers as long as they stick to their knitting; diaper companies can tell me about potty training, formula companies about nutrition, etc., 67%

3. Don't play coy

Moms welcome tips and ideas from you, so you needn't don sheep's clothing to deliver them. Reach out to her with a taste of this content through appropriate web channels and leave your calling card. She's confident in her ability to decide whether to take your advice, in fact only 9% of moms told us they tune out sponsored content.

Q: How do you feel about articles you find online that are "brought to you by" a marketer?

I'm ok with this, as long as the source is clear, so I can decide how much credence to give it, 47%
I'm wary, but if it's on a Web site I trust, then I might read it, 17%
I'm fine with this from marketers who I know and trust, 14%
I'm happy to consider input from any and all sources , 13%
I tune out as soon as I see that it's sponsored information, 9%

The bottom line: It's about relevance and transparency

There is huge opportunity for marketers to share the role of content providers in the mom space -- by talking about what they know best and clearly identifying themselves. Respect her, know her, earn her trust, and you'll pass the sniff test.

The Parenting Group "gets" moms in part from an ongoing dialogue through our proprietary MomConnection® panel (www.momconnection.com), an online research community built in 2003, that goes beyond reader panels to offer insights representative of the full mom market.

The Web site serves as a 24/7 resource and "home" for 5,000 panel members, with survey results, a bulletin board, chats, press pickups of surveys and site updates. MomConnection's vibrant online community has yielded insights leveraged by TPG, clients and agencies in over 200 surveys and polls since its inception.

Tags: moms
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