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Online networks create programming for the digitally minded mom

Millennial mom
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Unlike previous generations, millennial moms grew up on a steady diet of creating and watching digital videos. As they grow up and continue their cord-cutting habits, they're opening up a market for a new type of online video that caters to their more mature viewing habits.

"This generation of moms really looks to social media on what to buy, and their purchasing decisions changed dramatically when they became a mom," said Sarah Penna, head of AwesomenessTV's millennial mom network Awestruck. "Moms make a lot of decisions in the household. They are the CEOs of the house."

The BabyCenter 21st Century Mom Insights Series on the 2015 State of Modern Motherhood found that $1 trillion is spent per year on raising children in the U.S. The report, along with data from Goldman Sachs and Nickelodeon, also showed that millennial moms watched more online video than TV. Nine out of 10 had a smartphone, and millennial moms averaged six hours a day on mobile.

"My peer group consumes content differently than Gen X," Penna said. "We are looking to Instagram and Facebook for tips on what to buy."

Penna pointed out she found her nanny on Care.com, orders lunch from Postmates and then gets her groceries from Instacart — all without having to go to a physical location. Retailers are learning they have to be accessible online for these parents. Meanwhile, consumer product goods manufacturers have to shift toward digital advertising to reach these consumers.

The topics haven't changed: Awestruck creates shows for moms on various topics including do-it-yourself/food and fashion/lifestyle, as well as comedies, scripted series and documentaries. However, instead of watching on traditional cable or broadcast networks, you can find their programming on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Verizon's go90.

It's not just the audience that is growing older: It's the creators themselves, said Stephanie Horbaczewski, CEO of RTL Group's multichannel network StyleHaul. YouTube turns 11 years old this year. A decade ago, YouTubers vlogged about their high school lives, she pointed out. Now, they're talking about what's going on with their families, and their fans are growing up alongside them.

"They want to talk about different things now," she said.

StyleHaul's audience is more than twice as likely to have children 5 and up than the average internet user, according to comScore. They're 48 percent more likely to have children in the household, as well as 46 percent more likely to have a baby in the next year.

They're also mom influencers: StyleHaul's viewers were 43 percent more likely to be the first among their friends to own, buy or use the latest parenting products than the average person online.

Digital video also opens up different kinds of advertising opportunities, including native content where popular online creators will make videos on behalf of brands. For example, Awestruck's HeyKayli made a tutorial for stocking holders on behalf of CVS. It's been viewed upward of 37,000 times. In March, StyleHaul and Time announced a multiyear partnership. Brands such as Walgreens used StyleHaul influencers and publications such as Entertainment Weekly, People, People en Espanol and Essence content to promote its "Whatever Makes You Feel Beautiful" campaign.

Jason Kirk, chief business officer of marketing technology firm Zefr, said unlike TV commercials that people watch passively, online branded content makes viewers feel like they are getting advice directly from a friend. It makes the message — and the marketing — more effective. In addition, viewers are going directly to the video to watch it, unlike TV commercials, which are easily fast-forwarded through.

"Television was meant to be something you watched when you got home from work, when you want to lean back and relax," Kirk said. "It was not meant to interact. Online videos give you the ability to have a relationship with the content. I feel like I know the person creating it."