Women, Online Video and the Arts

Way back when, circa 1995, I started my first online business, CultureFinder.com. At that time, the vast majority of Web users were young men. By many, women weren’t even considered a factor, and most people didn’t even know that women use the Web differently than men. But since women are the key decision makers for arts attendance, I paid a lot of attention to how women use the Web.

Years later, all sorts of research showed that there are real gender differences. Women are less inclined to use the web for "surfing" and more inclined to use the Web to "get things done."  The research I’ve clipped below caught my eye since the rise of online video seems to be following the same path as did initial Web usage.

Take a look at an article I read on news.yahoo.com:

About 97 million women in the United States will use the Internet this year compared with 91 million men, according to a study by eMarketer. But the report also says only 66 percent of those women are watching videos online compared to 78 percent of men.

    "Women are more likely to use the Internet to get things done, to accomplish tasks, to check something off of a checklist that they need to do," Deborah Aho Williamson said. "Men are more likely to use the Internet to have fun. And a lot of what you see on youtube.com is silly, time-wasting kinds of things that maybe women don’t feel they have the time for, or don’t want to have the time for."

    "The gap is going to close pretty quickly as the content becomes available that women are interested in and they become more comfortable with it," Williamson said.

I think this hits the nail on the head. The most important phrase here is "as soon as content becomes available that women are interested in."

That’s where the opportunity for the arts comes in. When arts organizations regularly post video on their sites that helps women make a better informed decision about what events to select, then video will really pay off for the arts.  Far from replacing the cultural experience, video on the Web is going to enable women to make better choices, based on better information.

When that happens, (and I have no doubt that it will) we’ll really be in the golden age of the Web for arts marketing.

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