The importance of e-marketing in shaping the image of the Internet as we know it
Most Internet users interact daily with others through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. Or through chatting applications such as Messenger, WhatsApp, and Telegram. Or through web-based email services, primarily Gmail. Most Internet users turn to Google Search to search for information, while millions prefer to search through YouTube. All these services and tens of thousands are free. And Their providers do not earn any compensation despite their exorbitant operating and management costs. Giant technology companies such as Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Google, and Microsoft, which supplies the Bing service that uses the most powerful artificial intelligence systems to make huge profits due to e-marketing.
E-marketing is the application of the Internet and other information and communication technologies like smartphones as tools to sell goods and services. Advertising goods and services through social media, e-mail messages, and different web page kinds are the most direct form of e-marketing. This method does not hugely different from the marketing used in the past through newspapers, radio, and television. It became perfectly normal to use the same old pattern across social media. Advertising through traditional media contributed to compensating these media service providers for the high costs. And that was through advertising revenue. Thus, it can supply its services to the user either for free or at reduced prices. The same applies to Internet services. Its users get its services for free because its providers depend on making profits by selling marketing services to advertisers.
Thus, e-marketing is considered one of the most crucial factors that format the Internet as we know it. The services of social media platforms and search engines also form daily network experiences for their users. In addition, it is a strong attraction for individuals to use the network. As well as it grows the number of Internet users, which are over half of our world’s population. The increased number of users of network services, in turn, increases the use of the network as a media and advertising tool. Thus, it increases the percentage of advertising budgets made through social media. The budgets of other media cannot compete with the Internet in the size of the audience that reaches it.
However, the effect of e-marketing is not just making most Internet services widespread. The reliance of these services on e-marketing to earn revenues made the competition to obtain the highest percentage of their annual budget the highest motive for developing the way these services operated. Internet services look to collect as much data as possible about their users and develop big data processing technologies and artificial intelligence algorithms to raise the efficiency of e-marketing. Some artificial intelligence algorithms analyze users’ data, and others use the results of this analysis to direct advertising content to the appropriate audiences to interact with.
Finally, marketing is the direct reason behind the emergence of the economy of creators and influencers. The content industry has gone with the emergence of the Internet since its start. It developed with the emergence of the interactive Internet or the Web 2. Having more influential users was accompanied by blogs and forums that preceded social media platforms. They continued and developed with the platforms and their rapid growth. Neither of the two activities is directly considered an economic activity. E-marketing specialists and Internet service providers noticed the opportunities included in these two activities, and they used them as channels to reach the advertising message to large categories of Internet users effectively and persuasively. Then, the brands began contracting with content makers and influencers to pass their advertising messages through them. In return, Internet service providers began monetizing content with high engagement rates. Thus, content creation and influence on the Internet have turned into two economic activities through which they can generate income that may often be enough to turn them into a full-time business or a full-fledged economist project.
The earlier introduction is necessary to realize the importance of e-marketing and its impact on shaping our experience in all aspects of the Internet, including the gender aspect of this experience. This paper provides an analytic reading of the gender policies of e-marketing and their impact on shaping gender expressions on the Internet as well as their effect on reproducing the gender gap and discrimination against women. And its direct impact on the mental and physical health of women and girls exposed to advertising messages through their connection to the Internet.
The Impact of E-marketing gender policies on shaping gender expressions on the Internet
Gender policies for e-marketing are an extension of the policies of the marketing industry called gender-based marketing intended to build marketing strategies and policies on two foundations. The first foundation is the prevailing traditional image of the gender binary, which consists of man/male and woman/female. Some marketing industry experts still promote gender marketing. They ignore the status of gender pluralism, despite their recognition that the concepts of gender fluidity and the right to choose a gender identity have achieved widespread and wide recognition in recent decades. The second basis is the recognition of fundamental differences between women and men in their consumer attitudes and how they make purchasing decisions and marketing approaches that work for either gender.
The e-marketing industry is one of the industries that adheres most to traditional gender stereotypes. Like other industries, women have not been given job opportunities in leadership positions. These industries do not balance between men and women. But this is not the main reason it is more masculine than others. It has built its success by using gender policies based on traditional stereotypes of people for many years. The backlog of experiences gained over many years in the marketing industry has set up a list of approved marketing principles for each gender separately. It built strategies and tactics that all invest in separating men and women in the types of goods and services promoted for each one. And in construction, an advertising message that matches the gender stereotype of each gender thinks when making purchasing decisions. The industry has to be rebuilt again to change this. Unlike the marketing industry, which is an intermediate industry, i.e., it relies on promoting the goods and services of other manufacturers. Many of these industries, which have high annual advertising budgets, have specialized in offering goods compatible with the unique needs of each gender for a long time. Therefore, its creators cannot change gender politics. Venturing into this exposes the industry to heavy losses if the change does not include most manufacturers that stand for top clients in the marketing industry.
How do gendered marketing policies affect mainstream gender expressions online?
The gender policies of e-marketing affect gender expressions prevailing on the Internet in many ways. First, they influence directly through the production of gender expressions found in advertising messages. The overall impact of gender expressions embedded in all advertising messages that Internet users are exposed to daily is the largest of any other source of gender expression. It is reinforced by the fact that most of these expressions are consistent. They are dominated by gender policies adopted by most advertising content makers.
Advertising content, as other content published on the network, is always subject to reproduction through republishing, modification, fragmentation, and creating memes in different ways. The exciting nature of advertising content that has a high attractiveness, whether this content is directed to e-marketing or other media, has an enormous influence in recent times using innovative images produced by Internet users, and it is a candidate for recycling more than others, which highlights gender expressions.
Finally, those exposed to advertising content for a long time tend to imitate it consciously or unconsciously because of its attractiveness. Thus, gender expressions in advertising content are widespread. It also leads to its separation from the advertising framework, which many think is unrealistic. Then this simulation may have a more profound impact.
Women and Girls are the First Targets of E-marketing
One of the most believable stereotypes of women and girls in the marketing industry is that girls have the most consumer tendencies. The marketing industry also adopts another stereotype that reflects the traditional functional gender division of roles within the family. The core roles of the woman/wife, mother, and homemaker are to take care of the husband and children and follow up on all their basic needs. She is primarily responsible for buying everything related to the materials and tools needed to prepare food. If we add to this all the commodities considered female, then women and girls are the first target group for the broader sector of advertisers. In other words, advertising space directed at women and girls has the highest value, and advertisers compete for it.
Internet services allow advertisers to reach particular categories of their users by offering advertising spaces directed to these categories in an auction. Whoever bids the highest price wins. Whoever delivers their advertising message to women is the one who expects to get the highest profit. So major brands stand for the largest share of this space, and smaller brands follow. Finally, this leaves non-consumer advertising messages, such as employment opportunities and skills development, a chance to reach women. This chance is ridiculously minor compared to what comes men from this kind of advertising message. Women will be negatively affected, as they do not find advertising messages that respond to their interests if these interests are outside the narrow framework of gender marketing policies. They limit women’s roles to being a wife, mother, and homemaker.
The limited advertising message available to women makes them feel that the stereotyped image of women presented by this advertising message is what they should be, even if they do not think it. The frequency of advertising messages that reproduce stereotypes is a constant attack on any woman’s conviction. She can be different if she wants to be. In conclusion, women who wish to challenge gender stereotypes do not find themselves in the available advertising messages. On the contrary, a woman who wills to challenge gender stereotypes does not want the advertising messages available to her. She challenges her convictions and independence.
Expanding Access for Women and Girls through the Development of the Content Economy and Influence
The content and influence production economy has evolved dramatically in recent years following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic all over the world. So an increased percentage of internet users who purchase their basic needs via retail services available on the internet led to the growth of e-marketing significantly from the total marketing budgets. The usual e-marketing channels were not sufficient to accommodate this growth. Therefore, marketers tend to allocate a lot of their investments to attracting content makers and influencers who are considered tools for delivering advertising messages to their followers.
The delivery of advertising messages through female content creators and influencers has many advantages compared to messages delivered through direct traditional means. Firstly, it monetizes the popularity they have achieved without additional cost by advertisers. Second, the popularity of female content creators and influencers seeks to form a semi-personal bond with their followers. This association is based on the concept of identification with others. The follower feels that the creator or influencer represents them. This association conveys the advertising message at the most fundamental level when a content maker or influencer presents it. Third, content makers and influencers deliver the advertising message within the framework of the content provided regularly. This content relates to their personal lives and interests, which makes the advertising message an integral part of the picture of daily life presented by the content creator or influencer. Whatever the message has clear boundaries, its impact remains part of the overall impact of all messages provided by the content creator or influencer. And it becomes more acceptable to the followers.
Directing the Content Produced by Women and Girls to Serve E-marketing
Those who practice the content and influence industry become highly motivated to succeed in what maintains their income. First, they ensure to present advertising messages attractively as much as possible. Through their followers, they keep their credibility at the same time. Content creators and influencers must ensure what they provide and what they reflect in their content. Their personalities and interests do not contradict the advertising messages that they provide. They need to create an image that naturally delivers the advertising message to get more engagement from advertisers. Then they had more success getting it across to their followers. Then online content creators and influencers tend to present interests related to goods and services. They declare that these goods and services are their main passion or at least a crucial part of their daily life. Therefore, cosmetics, skincare, hair care, and other products are a constant component of the content provided by some content creators and influencers, regardless of the topic of the original content. She tells a story or discusses an issue while doing her make-up and hair. These phenomena constitute non-traditional gender expressions that have a strong attraction, if it includes traditional gender stereotypes prevalent in society. These phenomena are mixed with unconventional expressions in the same content. The content creator or influencer presents content that is about empowering women. It gets mixed up with the image of a beautiful, attractive woman. Thus, her followers realize that gender empowerment is achieved through being beautiful and attractive: cosmetic, skincare, hair care, etc. brands define the prevailing specifications and standards.
Guiding Women and Girls Influencers to Reverse an Unconventional Consumer Stereotype
Content creators and influencers are strong, independent women. They made themselves economically independent as entrepreneurs. They invest their abilities to create content and direct public opinion through their prominent presence on the Internet. This image is correct. They attract followers and increase their convictions to become strong women and gain economic independence. Then They live up to becoming the most famous content creators and influencers for women. They are an example for other women who looks forward independent life. This aspect of the image of women presented by content makers and influencers is outside traditional gender stereotypes. Then this woman is expected to contribute positively to confronting these traditional stereotypes. But the more successful the content creator or influencer woman becomes, the more she can count on her continued success. She can develop brands for which it provides sponsorship and compensation to present its advertising messages. Brands seek to select female content creators and influencers have the largest audience possible, but this is not the only or primary criterion. These brands choose those who reflect the ideal image of women to market their goods and services as required by their advertising messages. The picture-perfect includes traditional gender stereotypes of women who seek and dream of a happy marriage, motherhood, and caring for a family and home. According to gender marketing standards, the advertisement message must not reflect any image that directly contradicts the picture-perfect of women. Thus, female content makers and influencers who want to succeed in their work and gain revenues are forced to reverse the traditional picture-perfect of women. Whether it reflects their true personalities, it is part of the job. As we indicated in the previous paragraph, this changes the nature of the recipients’ content production. Content is a free expression of self that is not restricted by considerations of employment or profit. In addition to the inauthenticity of the content product, the gender expressions provided by female content creators and influencers lose the diversity that arises from each of them expressing themselves honestly. Instead, almost all the gender expressions become mirrored versions of a single gender stereotype.
Gender Policies’ Role to Enlarge Gender Gap in E-marketing
Gender stereotypes perform two roles. Dominant stereotypes guide gender identity politics, and these policies recreate the same stereotypes that directed it. Then it contributes to its consolidation and continuity. It recreate these images when the gender policies of e-marketing are based on gender stereotypes. Many economic and social activities recreate gender stereotypes in different proportions. But marketing policies general, and e-marketing policies, in particular, contribute significantly more than others. This is due to several factors, including:
- Presenting stereotypes in an attractive, unrealistic way: Any content marketing paints an unrealistic ideal picture. This ideal image appears realistically in the recipient’s feeling that she will achieve herself. Or she will reach what she is pleased with through the promoted good or service. In gender marketing, a woman’s self-fulfillment or happiness is reduced to idealizing one or more traditional gender stereotypes. The commodity will make her more attractive. The value of a woman will be realized in her formal beauty. Or the commodity may make her capable of fulfilling her role as wife and mother. This is what sums up the value of women and the purpose of their existence.
- Stereotypes are repeated in different ways: The same stereotypes are repeated in advertising content of all kinds. They are presented in different ways that compete in their attractiveness and persuasiveness. The marketing content that is provided through the Internet is characterized by its permanent overlap with other forms of content. And this is in two close time and spatial frameworks. This leads to two results that seem contradictory, but they complement each other. On one hand, It makes decorative and flashy ad content stand out more than other content images. On the other hand, it reduces the boundaries between advertising and other content. This leads to mixing informational content with advertising content. In both cases, the advertising content affects the subconscious of the recipient more than what she is consciously aware of. This is what deeply entrenches gender stereotypes in advertising content.
- Using indirect ways through female content makers and influencers: When brands rely on content makers and influencers to direct their advertising messages, they feel like a model of successful, attractive, or happy women. The factors of success, attractiveness, and happiness overlap with the consumption of goods, services, and the character of the content creator or influencer. This character reflects gender stereotypes, as shown in this paper above. The success, attractiveness, and happiness of a content creator or influencer are linked to reflecting these stereotypes. This pushes her followers, admirers, and those who want to be a new version of her, to adopt the same gender stereotypes.
The traditional gender stereotypes that prevail in society are an important factor in reproducing the gender gap. It is also important in reproducing images of discrimination against women that justify their existence and continuity with these stereotypes. For example, there are stereotypes of women that they do not think rationally. And they tend to judge things based on their feelings. This stereotype justifies male power over her, as she is unable to choose what is appropriate for her rationally. Therefore, the reproduction and consolidation of prevailing gender stereotypes lead to the continuation of the gender gap and gender discrimination.
The gender policies of e-marketing contribute to the entrenchment of gender stereotypes in a significant way. This increased as a result of the continuous growth of its impact on Internet users, which is important to receive information consciously and unconsciously in the present and the near future.
The Psychological Effects of Stress Resulting from the Desire to Achieve the Ideal Stereotype
The psychological impact that gender expressions leave on many girls and young women who cannot identify with the ideal images of women and females drawn by these expressions is considered one of the serious effects of gender stereotypes that constantly republish advertising messages for e-marketing through all its channels. Among these effects is the woman’s dissatisfaction with her shape and body, which leads her to change her habits and appearance. Or some of these effects appear when a woman suffers from chronic depression when she feels that it is impossible to find a way to approach the ideal image imposed by the advertising content on an ongoing basis.
This paper discussed the relationship of electronic marketing to the gender gap and gender discrimination against women. First, the justifications for the great importance of e-marketing and its great role in shaping the image of the Internet and the experience of its users were presented. Secondly, this paper dealt with gender marketing policies. In particular, it focused on the extent to which these policies relate to traditional gender stereotypes that only recognize two gender identities. It decisively separates them without any regard for realistic gender fluidity. Third, this paper discusses how these advertising messaging policies have affected mainstream gender expressions on the Internet. Fourth, the paper dealt with the phenomenon of the economy of the content industry and its influence, and its connection to e-marketing. It discussed the impact of this on the gender politics of gender expressions prevalent on the Internet.