Do Users Really Know What They Are Agreeing To?

Facebook has recently published a controversial paper titled,“Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks.” The paper details how algorithms were tweaked to effect which posts appeared on over 600,000 users newsfeeds. Many people have been outraged by this manipulation, which calls into question Facebook’s user agreements and how much users really understand what they are agreeing to.

To read more about this check out A.V. Clubs article: http://www.avclub.com/article/facebook-tinkered-users-feeds-massive-psychology-e-206324

 

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Colbie Caillat Says “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard”

Colbie Caillat takes a powerful stand against the traditional beauty standards set by the entertainment industry in her new song “Try.” Colbie told People Magazine, “[people in the business] wanted me to dress a little sexier and kind of change the artist that I was.” These demands, as well as venting to Kenneth Edmonds and two songwriters who told her, “you don’t have to try to be someone else, because people like who you are,” inspired her to write this new song. During the music video, women of all different ages and backgrounds slowly remove their make up to Caillat’s lyrics, “You don’t have to try so hard.”

Check out People’s article and Caillat’s music video: http://ow.ly/zfmOm

Why Movies Should Have More Female Protagonists

As summer approaches, excitement for Hollywood blockbusters begins to build. Films including Godzilla, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past are all set to release in the next few months. These films conform to the classic Hollywood model that we are all accustomed to. Films that are created for, marketed to and star men. However, in The Motion Picture Association of America’s 2013 annual report, women purchased around 52% of movie tickets. Additionally, earlier this year Vocativ analyzed films with strong female leads and found that they made more money.

Despite these findings, 2013 was a low point for women in film. Eliana Dockterman reports, in her Times article, that “of the top 100 grossing films in 2013, women comprised only 15% of the protagonists, 29% of the major characters and only 30% of all speaking characters, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.” In Walt Hickey’s article,they found that “in a larger sample of 1,794 movies released from 1970 to 2013, only half had at least one scene in which women talked to each other about something other than a man.” Finally, it was only in 2007 that Warner Brothers chairman Jeff Robinov decreed that his studio would no longer make films with female leads.

Despite these bleak statistics, there is hope for women in the film industry. Hollywood has had some recent success with female-dominated films. Michael Shamberg believes younger viewers have “more equal view of men and women,” citing the success of female protagonist movies, such as Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergence. Disney’s female-centric Frozen is also known for promotes gender equality in the film industry. These films indicate that Hollywood is looking beyond the antiquated idea that movies with female leads don’t perform well.

Dockterman found, unsurprisingly, that “movies with the most robust roles for women drew the highest percentage of females: The Other Woman’s audience was 75% female; Maleficent’s 60%; and Neighbors’ 53%.” With women accounting for over half of the general and ticket-buying populations, and box office smashes like Catching Fire earning over $580 million, perhaps the future will hold more female protagonists. While having a strong female character is not essential for a film’s success, powerhouse female actresses, such as Jennifer Lawrence, make the economic case for the viability of women in starring roles. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get a female super hero movie!

Chloe Griffith

No Expiration Date For Sexy

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American Apparel has done its share of producing eyebrow-lifting ad campaigns and from the looks of it they have no intention of slowing down. When you think of a model you picture someone who is tall, thin and most importantly young but AA broke these barriers when they introduced 62-year-old Jacky O’Shaughnessy back in 2011. O’Shaughnessy is six-feet tall with beautiful grey/silver hair and has appeared in many of AA’s campaign lines photographed in full clothing. Since her introduction, O’Shaughnessy has become the talk of many magazines and bloggers; she has also become a positive influencer for different demographics specially AA’s younger target market.

The placement of advertisements holds an important role in a society where anything media has potential to influence a perspective. AA did a wonderful job of applying this concept when they introduced their new lingerie campaign and showcased O’Shaughnessy on their Instagram account. She wore nothing but a lace bandeau and high-wasted lace underwear as the caption read, “Sexy has no expiration date.” There were both positive and negative feedback coming from commenters but most of the comments you come across were comments about hoping to look that great at that age.

During an interview, O’Shaughnessy shared with Prevention and said, “If you insist on finding what makes you joyous, you have an easier time accepting where you are in life. Age has not limited my ability to get stronger physically or stay flexible. I don’t feel old, just older.” She went on to say that good music, TV, books, the company of great friends, singing in the shower and laughter are some keys to staying young. Well there you have it… words from a beautiful and inspiring 62-year-old model. What are some keys that you think are essential to stay young at heart?

Unequal Gender Representation at the Oscars: The Red Carpet Looked Great but Nominees Could Have Looked Better

The 86th Academy Awards seemed to captivate almost everyone in Los Angeles last Sunday: from the Red Carpet to the musical performances, the show was exciting. Of course, there were many box office favorites up for awards, and big winners included Dallas Buyers Club and Gravity. At first glance, the biggest travesty to me was that Leo DiCaprio, once again, went home empty-handed.

Throughout the Oscars, Twitter users found much to celebrate as well as criticize. Angry rants online often are unsubstantiated, but I could not help but read attention-grabbing Tweets from MAKERS, a feminist organization that often posts inspirational stories and facts with women at the center.

On Sunday, though, MAKERS’ tweets were not all positive. They posted gender breakdowns of nominees in each category, many of which did not include a single female nominee. The most shocking of these were categories like Sound Mixing and Visual Effects, in which teams of people were nominated for each film. These categories recognized 16 and 20 men, respectively, for their work.

This brings to light the question of why more women are not nominated: do fewer work in these fields, or is there another reason they are not among the best at the Oscars? According to an article from the New York Times, many of these categories are no strangers to gender disparity; in the past they have been male-dominated.

The “heroes” montage provoked backlash as well: people on Twitter were outraged at the lack of women portrayed as heroes.

Heroes emerged as the show went on: Best Actress in a Supporting Role winner Lupita Nyong’o gave a touching speech proclaiming that everyone, regardless of race or gender, has valid dreams, and Cate Blanchett spoke on the importance (and money-making qualities) of female-centered films after winning Best Actress in a Leading Role for Blue Jasmine. “The world is round, people!” she declared.

With Ellen DeGeneres hosting, this night definitely included some major wins for women. One can only hope for more female nominees and inspiring acceptances in the future.

Women edge out men in handling credit: Experian

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When it comes to managing credit, American women have a slight edge over men, according to a study of credit reports by the credit report agency Experian Plc.

Experian looked at 750,000 credit reports, a sample of what it collected nationwide, and found that while women earn 23 percent less than men, they know how to handle debt.

“When you start from there, you recognize that women have less money to spend,” says Michele Raneri, Experian’s vice president of analytics. “And their delinquencies are less.”

When it comes to credit scores, women are in front by a tiny margin. Women averaged a credit score of 675 compared to the male average of 674, according to Experian’s data. Reuters got a sneak peak of the study, which will be released on Wednesday.

“In terms of having a stereotype, they may spend and shop, but women also pay their bills well,” Raneri says. “They are doing more with less.”

Experian found that men have 4.3 percent more debt than women. Men have a 2 percent higher credit utilization rate along with mortgage loans that are 4.9 percent higher. More men also hold mortgages that are least 60 days past due.

The average man in the study’s sample carried $26,227 in debt compared to $25,095 for women. That figure includes consumer debt such as credit cards and auto loans, for example, but excludes mortgage debt.

The average mortgage held by a man is $187,245 compared to $178,140 for a woman. About 72 percent of all mortgages are held jointly, Experian found, so the analysis looked at the other 28 percent (just over half of them are held by men).

No place else in the country is close to the District of Columbia when it comes to women-held mortgages. In Washington, D.C., 47 percent of all mortgages are held individually, with 27 percent held by women – one-third more than the number of male-only mortgages. The next closest is Georgia, where 17 percent of all mortgages are held by women.

Women are least likely to be the sole mortgage holders in Idaho, Montana and North Dakota. In each of those states, women only represent 8 percent of the outstanding mortgage loans.

The biggest gap in mortgage debt is in Connecticut, Experian found. The average mortgage held by a male there is $229,510 compared to the average $175,276 held by a female.

Coincidentally, men in Connecticut are also more likely to make late payments on mortgages and have more non-mortgage debt.

Experian also looked at the Miami area, where both women and men are late on their mortgage payments about 13 percent of the time. But for those same women, the average debt is about 7 percent lower than the men, which Experian says is another example that women are handling their debts better.

The findings should serve to bolster the argument that women are perfectly capable of managing their finances, says money management expert Liz Weston, columnist and author of “Deal with Your Debt.”

“I like any study that counters the notion that women are airheads about money,” Weston says. “I don’t think women are any more likely to be spendthrifts, for example, or any less likely to be savers.”

SheKnows Content is Queen – Connect With 23 Million Women

ImageThree moms and a dad founded SheKnows.com in 1999 on the premise that the Web would play a vital role in women’s lives. The dad, Kyle Cox, was among the group of former publishing and editorial design experts who set out to meet the needs of a new female generation—one that featured a younger, hipper mom who yearned for something more than her mother’s Good Housekeeping orBetter Homes & Gardens.

“We wanted to create a community that women could rely on, and we saw the future of how people were going to consume content in a digital age,” says Cox, who remains general manager of SheKnows.com, overseeing the day-to-day operations and vision for the brand.

Today, SheKnows.com tops iVillage as the largest lifestyle website for women, per comScore. With its expansive reach and compelling slate of original content, including that found on its sister properties, FabulousFoods.com,

LovingYou.com, GeoParent.com and ChefMom.com, among others, SheKnows.com attracts a combined 23 million unique monthly visitors. Additionally, SheKnows has drawn recurring major CPG advertisers, including Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Unilever and Kraft, as well as retailers Target and TJX Companies, and even non-traditional women’s market brands such as Harley-Davidson.

At SheKnows.com, a tapestry of articles, videos and blogs is presented in a splashy magazine-style format creating a one-stop destination for women seeking information and advice on everything from parenting to pets, health and wellness, career, beauty, entertainment and dating. Among the most popular features: Mommalogues, where popular mommy vloggers engage readers in discussions on various parenting and lifestyle topics (which will feature celebrity mom Cindy Crawford in April); and SheKnows TV, the company’s branded entertainment offering, which produces over 120 videos per month, including Corner Kitchen and the Emmy award-winning series, BeYouTiful.

“We’re attracting women at critical times of transition in their lives, such as marriage, pregnancy, buying a home or sending their kids off to college,” says managing editor Alison Bills, who is part of the in-house content team that develops all of the articles and video features on the site. “Our contributors are comprised of professional journalists, published authors and industry experts who create a community rich in experience.  And because our community is friendly, supportive and empathetic (all things a woman looks for in a girlfriend), our audience continues to come back and look to us as a reliable source.”

Marketers are afforded various sponsorship and advertising opportunities at SheKnows.com. Brands like Old Navy and HGTV’sHouse Hunters program have had their ads skinned onto the Parenting and Home sections, respectively, and ran rich media banners on those pages. Cheerios sponsored SuperMoms Guide, and other brands have conducted product integration and “brought to you by” sponsorships on SheKnows TV. “There’s no specific formula or ad package; it’s a matter of digging into a brand’s objectives and finding a solution that meets their needs,” says Zach Alter, VP of marketing and sales strategy. “We focus on bringing customized advertiser messages to places with captive and engaged audiences,” not to mention a loyal fan base: Nearly 30 percent of site visitors return more than nine times per month, notes Alter.

SheKnows.com continues to look for ways both on and offline to make its brand more relevant with its audience. Its recent partnerships include a tie-in with Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger and the 2012 SheKnows Where The Other Sock Went charity campaign, benefitting Autism Speaks, with Toni Braxton, Nigel Barker and Michael Costello. Says Alter, “It’s all about our content, reach and ability to marry advertisers and audience in a way that leaves both coming out of the experience feeling great.”

Modern Woman, Bread Buyer and Breadwinner

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If you’re searching for the aspirational ideal for the modern woman, it might be Sheryl Sandberg, the powerful COO of Facebook. Sandberg’s business success is unquestioned, given her position at Facebook and her prior success at Google, and she actively promotes women as business leaders—her popular TED Talk video decries the dearth of women in positions of power in the business world.

Yet Sandberg has also been quite vocal in her discussion that she also has a personal life. She notes in numerous interviews how she and her husband share their household responsibilities 50-50, how they prioritize their kids, how they prioritize both of their careers and how this household equality allows both of them to succeed.

While Sandberg may not be typical—after all, how many social media soon-to-be-billionaires are there?—her push for greater balance between career and family touches on the shifting role of women and what it means for them as consumers. As the role of women has grown in the workplace, it also has changed at home. There has long been discussion that women are moving from household gatekeeper to household decision maker. In 2012, that now appears to be the reality.

“Now the woman of the household is in many instances the head of the household and the decision maker,” says Vita Harris, global chief strategy officer at Draftfcb. “In past days, those things were very separate. There was the gatekeeper who was the mom, and there was the decision maker who was often male. Now these roles have blended, so you can’t treat them in silos. I think this has major implications for our industry.”

Today, more women are their family’s breadwinners than ever before. Harris notes that in the 2010 U.S. Census, the number of single-parent households was nearly equal to the number of dual-parent households. Analysis of the Census Department’s American Community Survey by the University of Minnesota found that more than 12 million families with children now rely primarily on women’s earnings (either single mothers or women providing at least half of a couple’s earnings), about a third of the approximately 35 million households with children nationwide.

This change has had significant implications for women. The January 2012 Women, Power & Money study from Fleishman-Hillard and Hearst Magazines—the fourth wave of research since the project was launched in 2008—found that women today are more likely than they were three years ago to describe themselves as “ambitious” (50 percent in September 2011 vs. 37 percent in 2008) and “decisive” (43 percent vs. 38 percent).  At the same time, a third of women (33 percent) now see themselves as “stressed” compared to just 19 percent who used that word in 2008, a shift the report says is due to “the dual factors of a faltering economy and overloaded to-do lists.”

Still, women may be breadwinners, but they’re also still bread buyers. According to GfK MRI’s Spring 2011 Survey of the American Consumer, 75 percent of women are the primary shopper for all household products. When one considers that, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, annual U.S. personal consumption expenditures were $10.8 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2011, those are some pretty large purse strings.

“Think of anything in the typical kitchen or pantry and, chances are, it was brought home by the lady of the house,” says Anne Marie Kelly, EVP of marketing and strategic planning at GfK MRI.

It’s not just packaged goods and fashion either. Consumer categories long thought to be the bastion of male decision makers—such as automobiles, financial services and consumer electronics—are now falling to women. For instance, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reports that while men still spend more on consumer electronics, the difference is shrinking considerably. On average, men spent $728 on electronics and gadgets in the past 12 months, while women spent $667 during that same time period, a difference of $61. In 2007, that difference was about $200.

Yet marketers still think they need to cater to women by creating phones in certain colors or with feminine touches. Consider, for example, HTC’s launch of its purple Rhyme Android phone, which included a light up charm so it could be found in a messy crowded purse. Engadget noted in its review: “The Rhyme’s promise as a piece of hardware got lost amid stereotypes painting women as ditzes who need a sparkling light to find their phone underneath tubes of lipstick.”

“Forget pink,” says Jessica Boothe, manager of strategic research at the CEA. “Women don’t want to be catered to with ultra-feminine looking products; they simply prefer lightweight devices that can fit smaller hands and smaller body frames.”

This points to another issue: the desire of marketers to try to reach “women” as opposed to the various segments of the female population. Instead, marketers need to start looking at different messages and different triggers. “We still have this belief that we target women 25 to 54,” says Jonni Hegenderfer, president of JSH&A, a Chicago-area consumer marketing public relations agency. “There is no such thing. It’s like using a thunderstorm to water your rosebuds.”

The Rise of the Social Purchaser

Where women do differ is in their use of their social circles to broadcast and influence purchases. While this may not be new, the growing importance of social media has hypercharged this form of social commerce, further catapulting women into a position of decision maker within their household, and influencer inside and outside it.

“Within digital, more of these commerce decisions are being made in social environments,” says Thom Brodeur, president and COO of EmpowHER Media, publisher of a social platform for women related to health, wellness and lifestyle. “I would argue that social discussion is the currency of commerce. Inherently, women are better at sharing points of view when it comes to household buying.”

In many cases, this influence on decision making is not just occurring on Facebook or Twitter, but via online product reviews and other references. Women are clearly influenced by these opinions and are both consumers and contributors of online reviews. The behavior is mirrored in face-to-face interactions.

Women, Power & Money cites this in its January 2012 report: “With the greater importance of social circles more generally comes a greater influence of social dynamics on marketplace behavior. Simply put, she is becoming an even more important influencer on the marketplace.”

For example, in the study, half of women say they regularly influence friends and family to buy or not buy a particular product or service, up from 31 percent in 2008. Moreover, 54 percent of women agree they feel it is their responsibility to help friends and family make smart purchase decisions. In terms of social interactions, 33 percent had recommended a specific product or service to someone in the previous six months and 30 percent had reviewed a product or service on a website.

“Simply put, when it comes to the dynamics of today’s marketplace, women have changed the marketing communications game,” says Nancy Bauer, SVP and senior partner at Fleishman-Hillard. “The 2012 female consumer is a valuable broadcaster and an amplifier of ideas in the marketplace.”

Hegenderfer of JSH&A concurs. “We’ve always been used to talking to women,” she says. “Now, we have to reach out to them for feedback and engagement.”

Hegenderfer notes the growing influence of “mommy bloggers” as an example of the viral effect of online recommendations. For example, JSH&A works with Hershey’s at the annual BlogHer conference of women bloggers, to help the candy maker create tie-ins with mom bloggers to promote its latest offerings. “Women are gatherers,” she says. “She buys based on information and recommendations.” Continue reading

10 Things to Know About Today’s Female Consumer

Think you know a thing or two about women? They’re dynamic consumers and worth paying attention to. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. ESPN’s “NFL Regular Season” was the top cable TV program among American women age 21-24 in November 2012.
  2. Eighty-nine percent of women in developing countries have a cell phone. In developed countries, the number jumps to 95 percent.
  3. More women in Australia own smartphones (67%) than anywhere in the world, followed by South Korea (65%), China (57%) and Italy (57%).
  4. Seventy percent of women surveyed worldwide have cut household spending in the past year. The top targets were clothes, gas and electricity, and entertainment outside the home.
  5. Women in the U.S. talk 28 percent more and text 14 percent more than men on their mobile phones every month.
  6. Globally, women are 25 percent more likely than men to rely on friends or family for advice on personal finance matters.
  7. Women in the U.S. spend significantly more time on social media than men do. Online, women spend 44 percent more time on social media, and via mobile, the number jumps to 39 percent.
  8. While women are very active online globally, only 10 percent are highly influenced by Web ads with social content.
  9. African American women ages 18-35 are 72 percent more likely than the average U.S. adult to publish a blog or express their preferences online via links or “liking.”
  10. Ninety percent of women worldwide believe their role is changing for the better. In developing countries, women are even more optimistic.

SOURCES

Nielsen Mobile Consumer Report, 2013

AOL Vice President Cynthia Gallagher Shares Her Thoughts on Women and Guilt

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Guilt — what a cruel word. There are not many words that can immediately turn a delightful situation into a miserable one. The simple five-letter word “guilt” can do just that.

Guilt will slow you down, it will present itself as a roadblock to success and it will have you second -guessing every decision you make. Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book and online venture Lean In has sparked another level of conversation around the concept of guilt.

As a young executive with two small children, there is no room in my life for guilt and there is nothing more frustrating to me than hearing women talk about feeling guilty for decisions they’ve made in their life. If a mom, or for that matter a dad, chooses to work-at-home, they should not be made to feel insecure or inferior to their working counterparts. In the same manner, a mom working outside of the home should not be made to feel as if she is any less of a mother than her work-at-home counterparts.

Both decisions are right. Both decisions give moms and dads an opportunity to define their own success.

When my youngest (now 2) was 4 months old, I was asked to travel to India. I was asked to help lead this particular initiative because of the strengths I brought to the project. Instead of feeling guilty about leaving my 4-month-old behind, I was honored to be presented with the opportunity. I reframed any thoughts of guilt and began preparing for an 18-hour flight and full week away from a solely breastfed infant. I turned the challenge of travel into a mission to continue breast feeding, figuring out the logistics of pumping on a plane and freezing bags of milk at the hotel. Incredibly, the plan worked and I arrived home with a cooler full of still-frozen milk. My 2-year-old is no different from other toddlers in our neighborhood because of the decision I made. He is just as healthy, loving and active as anyone else. My decision to take this trip did not make me feel guilty. Rather, it made me feel strong and successful, and I am certain that my children feel this, too.

To me, it’s simple:

1. Be proud of the decisions you’ve made in life. These decisions are yours, not your neighbors.

2. Only you can define happiness, don’t let others define it for you. Live your life for you and your family, not for what you read in the media or what others tell you should be doing.

3. Behind every door is a new opportunity — open the door.

4. Opportunities are like gifts; they don’t come every day and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

5. The definition of a “superwomen/man” or “supermom/dad” is what you make of it, don’t let others define it for you.

In the end, I guess the question is this: Why do we have different standards for men versus women? Why does it matter if one chooses to work-at-home or both parents choose to work outside of the home? Success and happiness should be defined by each of us individually, regardless of gender and regardless of family situations. I would love to see conversations move from a demographic conversation to a broader cultural conversation about what we are doing to lift each other up, versus putting everyone in silos with predefined metrics for success.

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