Mothers may have gotten the flowers and breakfast in bed this past weekend, but they’re feeling the love year-round from stations across the country. Gray Television, for one, is in the midst of an ambitious group-wide rollout of “Moms Every Day”—a mother-centric Web vertical and on-air segment that its principals say is already kicking real revenue to stations’ coffers, while presumably making life for mothers a wee bit easier.
While other mother-themed brands focus on shopping and fashion, sponsor-supported Moms Every Day (momseveryday.com) offers locally generated solutions to real-life issues related to parenting, marriage, money and even less traditional topics such as car and home repairs. Jason Effinger, Gray regional VP, says the seeds of the concept were planted back when he was raised by a single mother in Wisconsin. “I thought about how hard it must have been,” Effinger says. “This is about how to make Mom’s life easier.”
With Mom possessing considerable purchasing power in the family, TV is fairly obsessed with getting her to tune in. Gannett has its “Moms Like Me” Web franchise. Last month, Fox O&O WAGA Atlanta launched MyAtlantaMoms.com, providing ladies in DMA No. 8 with “a forum to discuss issues relevant to motherhood.” NBC Local Media, for its part, at times uses its nonstop digital channels to reach moms, such as with WNBC New York’s Moms and the City and a Dad Named David and WTVJMiami’s Miami Moms.
Broader female-focused TV properties include The Daily Buzz affiliates’ new “GalTime” local Websites and TV segments; Meredith’s Better program; and WLNS Lansing’s Six in the City, which launched May 2.
Syndicators and daytime programmers have long tried to cater to moms too. Warner Bros.’ MomLogic was almost a go two years ago, but could not get the necessary clearances to launch. CBS’ The Talk is a sort of The View for moms, while Ricki Lake’s return to talk TV will likely feature her take on being a single mother.
Gray’s Effinger is traveling the country, helping the group’s stations roll out Moms Every Day in their markets. The concept is live in 16 markets; five more, including WKYT Lexington, will introduce Moms Every Day in June. Fully 35 markets (representing the 32 Gray stations, plus three split markets) are expected to have their own Moms Every Day Website (and, in some cases, on-air segments) by the end of this year.
Sponsors, which range from mortgage bankers to plastic surgeons to plumbers, offer Moms solutions to everyday problems. But Effinger says it’s got to be real content instead of just commerce. “Anybody who partners on this site has to bring valuable content,” he says. “They’re not there to sell Mom stuff. This is about putting Mom in a position to be an expert.”
The content comes from sponsors and from a pair of producers out of Effinger’s home market at KOLN Lincoln (Neb.). (Moms producers can grab appropriate content from a Gray station’s newsroom, but news is not responsible for creating content for Moms.) Effinger leans heavily on a pair of mixed-gender focus groups to help determine which topics and formats are working. “It’s their job to tell us what’s wrong,” he says. “If we don’t listen to the people we serve, we won’t get very far.”
Effinger won’t share traffic or engagement figures, but he will offer a taste of revenue. Since the main Moms EveryDay site launched some 18 months ago, it has grossed about $3.5 million, he says. KOLN’s local version is on pace to book $500,000 in 2011, while the group-wide venture is conservatively forecasted to bring in $6.5 million this year. (That should go up considerably next year, when all the stations are up and running with Moms for the full 12 months.)
Bob Prather, Gray Television president/COO, says he’s happy to see a fresh revenue generator spring up at the local level. “I think it’s a great idea,” Prather says. “Everybody’s trying to figure out the best way to market to mothers, and this is a good way to do it. I think it will be a real good revenue and profit source for us.”
Moms Every Day has expanded on-air in several markets, running in commercial breaks. WSAZ Charleston-Huntington features segments about three times a week in the fourth hour of Today, while KBTX Waco has them daily in its cut-ins within CBS’ Early Show. Effinger says the concept may have legs as its own program—both on the Gray stations and perhaps outside the group. “We know we have something here,” he says, “that other groups may want to be a part of.”
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