Mars and Venus: How to Reach Women and Men With Your Online Advertising

May 1, 2014 Rieva Lesonsky

online advertising

How do men and women interact with brands online? Data from Nielsen and ExactTarget has some useful insights that can help you create ads that work for each sex (or for both sexes).

Men prefer quick access to deals or information. They’re more likely to scan coupons or QR codes on their phones (56 percent of men vs. 39 percent of women).

Women prefer to develop a lengthier “relationship” with brands by interacting on social media, as opposed to the “quick hits” that men seek. A whopping 71 percent of women, as opposed to just 18 percent of men, will follow a brand on social media in order to get discounts or deals.

Although there’s not a huge difference here, women are less likely than men to act on digital advertising.

  • Some 48 percent of women ignore social media advertising, vs. 42 percent of men.
  • 59 percent of women ignore mobile text ads, compared to 52 percent of men.

If you are creating digital advertising, know that different themes resonate with men and women.

  • Men prefer car, sports, action and sexual themes.
  • Women prefer sentimental, family-oriented or pet- and child-related themes, or those that relate to real-life situations.
  • Both sexes like ads that include humor, are aspirational or convey value.

What do these results mean for your marketing?

  • Men prefer “escapist” advertising while women prefer advertising that relates to real life. Show a woman how your product or service can help her solve a real-life problem or challenge.
  • If you’re targeting women, focus on building a relationship on social media. Offer useful advice and information. Create posts that she’s likely to share—such as those relating to kids, pets, family or sentimental situations. Intersperse these with discounts and special offers, and make those shareable as well.
  • If you’re targeting men, when it comes to shopping they want to “get in and get out.” Mobile coupons will motivate them to buy, especially if you target them in-store or when they’re near your location.
  • If you’re experimenting with QR codes as part of your marketing, test them on men first since male shoppers are more likely to enjoy playing around with them.
  • Got a tight budget? Then try to create ads that will attract both sexes. A luxury product can focus on aspirational goals; an affordable product can focus on value; and commodity products can incorporate humor to differentiate themselves.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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