What mom’s want

Men may think they rule the world but advertisers assume that when it comes to household spending women write the checks. With that in mind two recent surveys that focus on women’s media-consumption habits suggest that the married-with-children moms have less time to read the morning paper but flip magazine pages for relaxation in the afternoon.

As I write this I’m mindful of a recent email exchange with a citizen blogger (yes, A, it’s you!) suspicious of survey data in general. Good. Surveys are rarely “scientific” (which means polling randomly-selected persons with a value-neutral set of questions). Many surveys are self-serving reports, commissioned by associations with a stake in the outcome. These often diistill the results of focus group interviews.

Other surveys are done by professional research firms that try to interview the right subjects and get more accutate readings of sentiment. Such surveys are usually sold and generally more reliable,.

But use common sense in filtering all surveys as they are guides not gospel.

With that caveat, The Media Audit, a survey research firm, recently reported on the media habits of working wothers. A free summary of that report provided by the Center for Media Research suggests that:

“Working mothers . . . are spending less and less time with television and newspapers but, radio, the Internet and direct mail still command their attention.”

No surprises there, perhaps, but a second analysis of the media viewing habits of women (this one seems less scientifically rigorous) suggests that newspapers and magazines remain the most trusted sources — without taking a position on whether their use is rising or declining. That second report, also summarized by the Center for Media Research, nevertheless contains some interesting points, including:

“Contrary to the scheduling of traditional morning and evening news programming, the study found that moms are most receptive to informative and educational messages in the afternoon . . . (and) Moms turn to magazines to help them relax more often then any other platform.”

That first finding makes perfect sense if you are a working parent. There is no time in the morning!

As for the magazine remark, I cite that because I’m a fan of magazines myself. As reading becomes a discretionary activity I believe the aesthetic feel of pages becomes more important.

Question for future reference: are there short-run, low-cost magazine production technologies that online publishers could adopt as a way to create advertising-supported, monthly or quarterly zines that offer a “best of” their daily content? I will snoop around on this. If you have any info on this, please help.