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Execs: Tech Is for Ladies, Too

9/16/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

New York— Pitches for advanced services and new technologies are often misdirected.

That was one of the takeaway points from a panel held at Women In Cable & Telecommunications executive luncheon here last Wednesday.

Panel members Betty Cohen, CEO of Lifetime Television; Brooke Johnson, president of Food Network; Lynne Costantini, senior vice president of programming at Time Warner Cable; and Holly Leff Pressman, executive vice president and general manager of Television & On Demand at Nielsen Entertainment, concurred that most of the marketing efforts for technology and consumer electronics products are aimed at men, usually the early adopters of the latest in gadgetry.

Once a product or device takes root, though, women are typically the largest users of the equipment. As such, messages might be better directed at the distaff side of the dwelling.

“Men may bring the DVD player into the home, but women buy more DVDs,” Pressman said.

“Women are the key force behind the mass marketing of technology,” added Costantini. “Men are interested in the fancy, high-tech appeal of products. Women are more interested in the value proposition. Part of the message should tell women why, not how. Maybe the messaging needs to be softer and we need more relationship marketing.”

Cohen also talked about another aspect of technological duality. Citing research conducted by Lifetime, she stated that “80% are interested in technology and engaged” by it. At the same time, 60% felt stressed and overwhelmed” by the advances.

Johnson noted that when it comes to toggling, women are often at the leading edge.

She said that women view network programming and then go to foodnetwork.com to get more information and recipes. “That’s part of the way they interact with the network.”

To underline her point, Johnson mentioned that kitchen designers these days set aside places for a TV and a computer. “Women are heading the way for technology convergence,” she said.

Addressing other topics, Johnson urged cable operators to come up with more standardized VOD tacks. “Scripps [Networks, Food’s parent] has put a lot of money and effort into VOD and there is good viewer feedback We need a uniform way to promote.”

Cohen said cable and broadcast would be wise to work together on developing another standard: one involving the measurement of proving that commercials reached viewers and then “they did something with it.” Otherwise, “the Internet is going to outpace us” on ad sales. “We don’t need this tomorrow, but within five years,” she warned.

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