EarthLink Ups Its Queer Connection
The study also shows that lesbians and gay men got online earlier. Almost 30% have been online for more than seven years, compared with 18% of straight men and women. In addition, Forrester found gay men are more likely to own portable MP3 players, browser-enabled phones and personal video recorders.
EarthLink, headquartered in Atlanta, began advertising in the gay media last year, and this summer paid for full-page inserts carrying pictures of same-sex couples and the headline, "Face the Music your Internet service should be as fabulous as you are." The campaign is to run throughout the year in Genre, Instinct, OUT and The Advocate, as well as Girlfriends, Curve, and Baby, local gay newspapers and Pride events. Online ads will run on Gay.com and Planetout.com, and EarthLink is holding a sweepstakes giving away an iPod and an iMac.
Many of the EarthLink gay market ads are cardboard inserts that include a CD with software to install the service, along with three songs from Heather Headley, a Tony Award winner for Elton John's AIDA. Two tunes, "I Wish I Wasn't" and "He Is," are exclusively remixed by superstar DJ Junior Vasquez.
"We wanted music and artists that are relevant to our target," says Travis Pagel of Osmosis Medialab, New York, which handles EarthLink's gay market efforts. "One of the things we wanted to do was get this [software] into people's hands and the music was something that got people to connect with the CD and use it."
Popping the Question
Consistent with previous studies of select groups, gays turned out to have somewhat higher incomes and education levels. Lesbians earned $6,600 more per year than straight women, and 19% of gay men and lesbians have post-graduate degrees compared to 14% of straight men and 12% of straight women.
According to the report, "Gays lead in the adoption of a whole host of emerging technologies and almost every online activity we ask about in our surveys. It's true that any group of higher-income and more highly educated consumers will be earlier adopters of technology. But even after adjusting statistically for online tenure and demographic differences including the likelihood to be coupled and have children we find significant differences in gay people's technology behaviors."
Lesbian and gay consumers also use the Internet more for dates and porn. Twenty-five percent of gays vs 7% of straights use the Internet for personal ads. Forty-one percent of gays vs. 12% of heterosexuals use it for porn.
Community, entertainment and fashion sites also attract lesbian and gay users. Gay.com brought in 39.9% of gays online in the last 30 days, while Planetout.com brought 32.8%, and AOL Chat 8%. Sports sites were only a little less popular for gays at 21% compared to 28% for straights.
Study Conclusions Falter
Forrester also recommends, "Because gay men and women stand out from heterosexuals in many of the same ways, one ad campaign will usually suffice to reach them both." This does not take into account differences of media use for gay men versus lesbians or the challenge of making an equally enticing message for both sexes.
Mike Wilke's Commercial Closet column covers gay issues in advertising, marketing and media. For 85 years of gay images worldwide see www.CommercialCloset.org.