Can’t Buy My Love- CEA Lineshows, Tech Gadgets, and the MomBloggers Who Love Them

As if I didn’t have enough to do last week with it being the last week of school here in steamy NYC, I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Lineshows in midtown.  This show is a mini, micromini really, version of CES to keep everyone’s interest up and show off some new things.  And while I saw some very intriguing new tech, the best part was seeing fellow tech mombloggers like Heidi, Christy, Amy and Beth (the original techmama!)  And when I get together with a group of smart, tech savvy and product savvy mombloggers the conversation always turns to money, respect and the lack of both in the momblogging world.

It may come as a surprise to the non-blogging world out there that mombloggers are some of the biggest reviewers, writers and users of new technology.  PR reps are all over this of course, but the marketing people still don’t seem to get it.  Over and over again marketing and advertising analysts will cite the huge purchasing power and decision making ability of women, and in particular moms.  Moms not only do the vast majority of clothes and food shopping but they also hold the purse strings when it comes to new technology purchases for the home and their kids.  Who do you think realized that having the right iphone apps could keep your kids busy while waiting in line at the grocery store?  Or that the ipod touch and now the ipad could be a traveling moms best friend?  A mom that’s who!   And who is getting together with their friends and comparing smart phones, giving each other app recommendations, looking over cases and skins?  Women.

So here’s my problem.

The tech(and non-tech) companies understand the power of the mom in theory, but not so much in practice.  Instead of hearing from marketing and advertising execs at companies in a savvy, well thought out, campaign minded way about how to harness this power we mombloggers hear from their PR people.  The pitches tend to be the same – come to an event and tweet about it,  blog about it, spend your time (and your time is money after all) to populate the event and provide essentially free grass roots advertising in return for …. maybe the product you’re covering?  Or maybe just lunch.  Or how about….nothing!  Remember when the kook Sue Lowdon in Nevada suggested that people barter with their doctors for their services and everyone thought that she was off her rocker?  Well, mombloggers do this every day.  And we’re told to make sure we show “integrity” when we blog about these products and tell everyone we got it for free so the “review” isn’t misleading.

I happen to think my readers are a sophisticated bunch of people.  I don’t do many straight up reviews because I feel that if I don’t have a genuine story to tell about a product, or a book, or TV show or movie, or a gadget or game, then it doesn’t belong here.  Go to cnet.com, or amazon.com if you’re looking for a serious down and dirty review.  I do.  I’ve honestly got bags full of product I don’t use but the swag was thrust upon me as I left an event.  I tend to give it away, not as giveaways on my blog but to friends or family that could actually enjoy and use it.  But if I see something really cool that I know I would tell my friends about then I share it here, because my readers are my friends out there in the cloud.  And I did see some great stuff at CEA that I will write about as I use them.  But, I’m still waiting for the company that gets what good mombloggers could provide.

My background is in advertising and marketing and so maybe for me this whole working for “free” thing really rubs me the wrong way since I’ve been on the other side of it.  I’ve seen those budgets and the thought and planning that goes into the launching of a brand or product.  There have been myriads of blogs written about mombloggers needing to demand pay, and I agree.  But I also think as long as the PR companies are focused on quantity rather than quality this will never happen.  And as long as the relationship is between a PR rep and a blogger rather than the Marketing Department and the blogger the true value of the blogging community will never be realized.  I have become much pickier about the events I attend, and I don’t feel compelled to write about the event or the product if it didn’t truly inspire a post.  A few tweets during the event, sure.  But giving over my real writing time that takes some serious doing.

So, all of you tech and non-tech companies I am putting you on notice.  Focus groups are not free.  Copywriting is not free.  Marketing plans and outreach ideas are not free.  Picking my brain – definitely not free.   And all of you mombloggers out there jumping on the swag filled bandwagon, stop and say it with me – “My time and more importantly, my writing is valuable.”   More valuable than a $30 pair of earbuds.  More valuable than computer speakers or an animal themed flash drive or 30 photo prints.  And if it isn’t worth more than that then I guess this is the right path for you.  But, for me, and the amazing mombloggers I saw last week at CEA and the others I’ve come to respect and admire, I know there is a better way and now it’s just a matter of figuring out what momblogging 2.0 will be…

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7 thoughts on “Can’t Buy My Love- CEA Lineshows, Tech Gadgets, and the MomBloggers Who Love Them

  1. Pingback: Cool Parenting Blog Links of the Week

  2. I also agree 100% and you’ve written a fantastic, appropriate post.

    As a former (and sometimes current) marketer, I am also flummoxed with the direction that mom/parent blogging is going in. I am not always comfortable taking the swag that gets thrown my way either, and I certainly don’t like feeling pressured to write about something that is not in line with my blog’s goals.

    It’s important for us all to keep focus and remember why we started doing this. If the reasons are purely materialistic, it will make us all look greedy and minimize the reasons we love to blog and are good at what we do.

  3. I am just so thrilled to be going to tech events now and see such an amazing group of mom bloggers that are now joining in the fun. The first year I went to CES (Consumer Electronics Show), I felt like I was the only tech mom. Last year at CES and MommyTechCES, I saw so many great bloggers (that also happen to be moms and also happen to love gadgets) there – including you Becky!

    My view is that our message is more powerful now that more moms writing about tech. I know that all along moms are the power users and power “buyers” of tech. But now we are joining in the online conversation which is very important(and also a fab group of dad bloggers). I see that as step one. I view shows like CES and CEA line shows as venues to learn about producs and have discussions with tech companies. There should be no pressure either way to write or blog – just to have the conversation, ask the questions – see demo’s of the products.

    Step 2 is that we share our opinion on what’s relevant to our audience. I don’t pay attention to swag, my end goal is finding valuable information about tech products so that I can share that info with my readers. Sometimes having a product makes it easier to provide that info. I actually buy all the products that I use on a daily basis.

    Maybe Step 3 will be to tell tech companies (like you did so eloquently) which moms are interested in attending focus groups and if so – that they do charge for that time. I think that would be the best money a company could spend (focus groups with their power users). For example, tech companies could gain so much values for hiring moms to do beta testing for relevant products – instead of releasing a product then having the public beta test!

    My deciding factor is that if a tech event will provide me valuable information that I can share with my readers – and that I can have a direct dialogue with the tech companies about their product, then I go. If it is a focus group where they are asking me information then I agree that those in attendance should be paid.

    I originally started tech blogging in 2005 so that I could have a dialgoue with tech companies and I am thrilled to say that in 2010 that dialogue is alive and well. But as you said Becky, maybe we are ready to also move to the next steps to have organized focus groups made up of tech moms and dads – so we can pass our wealth of knowledge back to the tech companies before the product is released or during new version updates!

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  5. This post took things that have been floating around in my brain in a completely disorganized way and said them more eloquently than I ever could have. Fantastic post.

    I admit I’m happy to write about products that are fascinating to me for free, and it’s such a happy day when I’m given something that I would have bought with my own money anyway. But the other 90% of the products that I get are sitting in my “swag room.”

    I had an idea to auction them off for charity, but was told by several different reps that the companies that sent them to me would not be happy about this, because it would be seen as undercutting their prices. So my close friends and family are going to be getting a lot of nice stuff as I clean out that room.

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