What Gender Should You Target with Mobile Ads

It’s not a myth. Women really do love to shop.

Data has long showed that men are gaining ground when it comes to buying. But women still do the bulk of the shopping for themselves and their families.

And it’s not only in stores. A new analysis by AppLovin, a mobile marketing company that came out of stealth earlier this year, shows that women dominate mobile sales as well.

Women Rule

AppLovin officials sifted through the twenty billion ad requests they see each day to determine whether there are differences between men and women when it comes to mobile shopping.

Lindsay Majane, director of product marketing for CraveLabs, a mobile advertising technology provider, said she’s not surprised by the findings. “Our mobile advertising customers continually look to target women with their mobile ad campaigns. Whether they're making a purchase on desktop, tablet or mobile device, they're undoubtedly the predominant consumer,” she said.

Mobile makes up an increasing percentage of online sales in today’s virtual marketplace. Women are a powerful force behind that increase.

In its analysis, AppLovin officials found women not only click on ads more often, but they buy more and spend more than men on mobile. But buying habits didn’t only vary by gender, they also varied by device. The analysis showed that while iPhone users click on fewer ads than Android users, they purchase and spend more.

However, regardless of device, female users still dominated purchasing. The average purchase for a female iPhone user was above $20, while the average female Android user came in just under $20. Men with iPhones spent a little more than $15 and on Android, men spend a little under $15.

Female Android users have the highest clickthrough rate of any group. But while they may click through more frequently, it’s the female iPhone users that have the highest conversion rate. They’re not only clicking through, they're buying. Even so, women on Android devices still outspent their male counterparts by 16 percent.

Understanding the Findings

The analysis didn’t delve into what’s behind gender-based shopping habits. “Sociologists debate whether gender traits are innate or socially ascribed," said John Krystynak, AppLovin co-founder and CTO. “We’ll bow out of that discussion. We are more interested in how gender behavior is different rather than why.”

Some of the differences seen in the analysis may be due to device characteristics. Android users may click through more frequently than iOS users because Android typically has more free and ad-supported apps. So it’s likely that users are more conditioned to accept ads and more responsive to them. Android users, both male and female, are historically accustomed to seeing more popular apps with ads, but perhaps are less inclined to pay for the items being advertised, the company suspects.

iPhone users, however, see fewer ads. So when they click, it’s because they actually want to buy.

It’s not really clear why women outpace men in mobile shopping.

Maybe it’s because women spend more time in apps, and have higher loyalty rates. But other studies show that men are actually more likely to shop using their mobile devices than women, said AppLovin officials.

Using This Data

Whatever the reason behind the trend, many businesses are now trying to lure in more mobile customers, particularly women. With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, it’s time to get a plan in place to boost mobile sales.

The good news is that this analysis shows that people -- regardless of gender or platform -- are spending money on mobile and interacting with ads, said “I think a lot of people still think of mobile advertising as this nascent thing which may or may not work. But the sheer volume of this study shows that mobile ads drive conversions and people do make the plenty of purchases from their mobile devices,” said Krystynak.

So can you take advantage of these new opportunities?

Focus on mobile. Create campaigns that keep these gender and device preferences and trends in mind. And be certain to track your results and adjust your efforts based on what you find, said Krystynak.

Hit your target. Advertisers should base decisions on hard facts. “They should invest their money not on a gut-feeling, but where there is a proven ROI,” said Krystynak. “That being said, reports like this, that show clear trends in gender and platform response should help fuel tests and ideas for targeting ads at new demographics.”

Give women what they want. “This study confirms that reaching that female user is only getting more competitive on mobile,” said Majane. “Organizations are going to be challenged to find more intelligent ways to reach women, at the time and place that they're most likely to make a purchase. This means that location-based and behavior-based mobile advertising is going to grow as women get harder and more costly to reach.”

Stay on top of trends. The data might not always look the way it does today, said Krystynak,
“As Android increases its polish, I see the gap between iOS and Android average purchase price narrowing,” he said. It’s important to adjust with the times and to continue to monitor trends.

The bottom line: “This data is an important reminder that gender differences are real. Factor in data like this when making marketing decisions,” said Krystynak.

Title image by Guillermo Moratalla  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.