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Moving Beyond Soap Operas to Reach Women

Even before joining NBCUniversal as executive VP of client
solutions, Alison Tarrant had developed an expertise at reaching young women.
Tarrant talks to B&C business editor Jon Lafayette about the
evolution of what women want, from a media perspective. An edited transcript

Tell me about how young women's media habits are
different from the more traditional picture of housewives watching soap operas?

I think the perception of what types of programming resonate with women has
changed. If you look at the traditional soap opera, that's almost a
stereotypical genre of programming. Women are consuming content in every
possible genre and in all mediums, so marketing to women is actually a lot more
complicated than it used to be.

Is there a way of saying there's a best way to get
young women's attention?

If I look at some of the tools we're getting requests about more and more
consistently, it's in the social and digital space. That is an opportunity for
advertisers to become a part of a meaningful conversation with consumers in a
space that has a lot of credibility with that audience and they can get a lot
of traction there.

With social media, the question is, can a company like
NBC monetize the conversations created that way?

I don't think there's a cookie cutter way in which we monetize it. If we can
find an organic way for an advertiser to be a part of the conversation, then
the audience is more likely to be receptive and it's a great opportunity for
the advertisers to connect with that passionate audience.

How big is the gap between what engages young men and
young women? Are they becoming more alike or more different?

As I look at what we're doing with young men, I would think that digital and
social are very important. But the tactics you would use to create custom
content and a more meaningful relationship would be slightly different. Women
look at social and digital for sharing more, and so we're developing content
opportunities for sharing. Men look at it more as entertaining or informative,
and so it is slightly different how we would connect with men in that space
versus women.

How is digital affecting viewing patterns? Are men and
women watching together more, or are they watching more separately because they
have more opportunities to watch what they want?

I think it depends on the genre and the network. I think there's some great
stories where you see a lot of co-viewing. One of the areas I've been spending
a lot of time focusing on since I've been here is with Modern Family,
which is rolling out on USA, and which is a huge opportunity for us from a
custom partnership perspective. There's a tremendous amount of co-viewing
that's happening with that franchise. We will be looking at that dual audience
in creative ways to create opportunities for advertisers.

Are there different product categories trying to
reach women now compared to the old days when it was all laundry soap and hair

It's all the big spenders and advertisers. When I look over the course of last
year, technology companies are focusing on women just as much as they are on
men. There are the usual suspects of retail and packaged goods that are looking
for that audience, but autos are still looking at women from a consumer
standpoint. I don't think the lines are as clearly drawn as they once were in a
straight female-vs.-male audience. Depending on the brand there are
opportunities. Even video games: There are products in the video game category
that are very much interested in reaching women.