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Men spend more time online, respond better to ads


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Men go online more often, stay on for longer, and respond to ads more positively than women do, according to a new report from eMarketer. The firm looked at the Internet habits of men versus women, partially because men are (technically) in the minority online and also because gender "is a distinguishing factor of Internet use, informing online behavior and attitudes."

There are 95.9 million men online in 2009, according to eMarketer's estimation. When compared against the 103.2 million women, that puts men at 48.2 percent of the overall Internet population (those who access the Internet at least once a month from any location). The firm says that the US Internet population will grow steadily, but by 2013, men will only make up 47.9 percent of the group.

But just because they're in the (slight) minority doesn't mean they're not valuable as marketing targets. According to eMarketer's data, not only do men spend more time online than women, they are also more active on social networking sites, reading/writing blogs, and listening to podcasts.

Men are supposedly not as bothered by "websites cluttered with ads" as women are, either. eMarketer claims that 56 percent of women in a study of 4,095 Internet users had negative reactions towards advertisers on sites that contain advertisements, compared with 48.3 percent of men. "Still, any negative reaction should be avoided—it is not what advertisers are paying for," cautions the report. (Tip: try to make it so that research firms don't describe your site as "cluttered" with ads.)

Additionally, the firm says that marketers who target men should diversify from the fart jokes and Maxim spreads aimed heavily at the 18-34 age group. The US male Internet population is evenly split between those under and over the age of 35, with the largest group falling between 35 and 44. "Marketers may be overlooking a valuable demographic if they target only 18-to-34-year-old males. Advertising messages steeped in college humor and sex do not resonate with the millions of male Internet users who are researching products and services—and jobs—while shopping and connecting with friends and family," writes eMarketer. "Ads that respect their roles as fathers, partners and friends will get the attention of men and women."

It's no secret that men and women use the Internet differently from one another, so eMarketer's data comes as no surprise. In 2008 alone, at least four reports came out comparing the behaviors of men and women online. For example, Nielsen Online found that men prefer user-generated video sites (like YouTube) while women take more of a liking to video streams of TV shows (such as those offered from Hulu). Social Web search company Rapleaf put out a report just a few months later saying that men are more likely to use social networks for business while women use them to build personal relationships. Men are also more likely than women to share their writings, photos, videos, and other creations online, according to Northwestern University, and men think they're the kings of Internet security (even though they're equally affected by security threats as women).

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