Although the parenting landscape is heavy on female-friendly content, millennials are changing the face of the modern-day family. In fact, a recent Pew Research study shows that fathers have nearly tripled the amount of time spent on housework and childcare since the 1960s. Simon Isaacs, co-founder and chief content officer of Fatherly, a new site launched in 2015 to address millennial fathers, sat down with JWT Intelligence to discuss the site.
How did Fatherly start?
When my wife and I were exploring having kids, we signed up for all the traditional parenting sites: What To Expect, the Bump. None of it was really connecting to me. I’ve built and created a lot of marketing agencies in that space, and stuff over at Coca-Cola. There was this idea that women controlled 80% of all purchasing decisions. It wasn’t reflective of what I was seeing, nor could I actually pinpoint where this information was coming from.
In parenting, that became even more pronounced. Everything was geared toward “mommies,” and brands had “mommy blogger” blinders on, and it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. And yet it wasn’t true. At the same time, a recent report had just come out where 52% of men claimed they were the primary grocery shopper. If you look downstream, the majority of master’s and PhD degree students were women.
The way we were speaking to parents was really off. And I realized what a huge opportunity that would be from a marketing and business perspective, but also from an impact perspective. Part of why we exist is that if you can create the content tools and community at scale, you can shift and shape culture. You can get men engaged even more than they already are, and excited about fatherhood. And if you can do that, you can address gender equity at home and at work.
Every new birth today is to a millennial. This is a generation of people who think very differently about gender norms. It’s a generation of people who have equal interest in parenting, as well as in work. Everywhere I looked, I saw men primarily being the one in the grocery aisle, men walking around the park with their Baby Bjorns. Between that and what I was seeing from media and from brands, there’s something big.
How has the reception been since Fatherly launched?
It is beyond my wildest dreams. We had the fastest rise of profitability of any digital media company ever. Last year I had 1.9 billion video views on our Facebook videos alone. We’re now the largest parenting site on social media, and we have about 10 times the engagement of every other parenting site, as well as Esquire and GQ.
We’re doing some stuff right. Parenting media, in its digital form, was built around gen X. We’re able to also attract millennial parents. There’s also a truism that women read men’s publications, but it doesn’t go the other way around. So if you want dual audiences, men aren’t going to the Bump. But women are coming to us, though we’re very focused on fathers.