Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia today unveils Martha's Circle, an ad-sales network composed of shelter- and lifestyle-related sites, such as Apartment Therapy, 101 Cookbooks and Style Me Pretty. MSLO estimates the network will generate almost 20 million ad views per month. The move is meant to deliver a larger audience, but one that's still interested in home and lifestyle, said Wenda Harris Millard, MSLO president-media.
All about extending reach
"The advertisers are looking to extend their reach, looking for opportunities to find audiences that resemble the audience that Martha offers," Ms. Millard said. "That inspired us to say there are other sites out there like Martha. ... They are Martha-like in their aspirations and interests."
For some bloggers and small website publishers, the network will fill a hole in the marketplace, said Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy. He said he has looked at several different ad networks, including Federated Media and Glam Media, but couldn't find one that specialized in his category. "Most people don't understand house and home," he said. "Look at all blogs -- the biggest ones are gossip, politics, sports and sex."
Ms. Millard stressed it is an edited mix of sites. "We don't want to create mass audience for sake of size," she said. Martha's Circle has been in operation since late summer, and advertisers such as Ace Hardware, Macy's and Bank of America have participated. The network is powered on the back end by Adify, a vertical (or niche) ad-network-technology provider. (Another shelter-related network, ShelterMedia.com, recently launched on Adify.)
While portals such as Yahoo still claim mass reach on the web, the ad-network business has become valuable for aggregating smaller sites into neat, easy-to-buy packages for advertisers. Additionally, networks allow online publishers who many not have the same scale online as they have in TV or publishing to reach larger audiences on the web.
"Some magazines or publishers have a limited amount of users it can offer [to advertisers], and there's lots of duplication," said Ruby Gottlieb, senior VP-managing director at Horizon Interactive, who has used Martha's Circle for Ace Hardware. "If they can offer a larger network of similar people, it's a way to extend their reach."
Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., which publishes magazines including Elle and Woman's Day, bulked up its digital-ad-sales capability this year with the acquisition of Jumpstart Automotive Media, a San Francisco ad network, and an agreement to sell ad space on TheFind.com, a shopping search engine and destination site. Both moves advanced the publisher's emerging strategy to provide advertisers with larger audiences across media in vertical segments from automotive to shelter to health.
Ms. Gottlieb said it's important that the sites have been culled by MSLO and branded Martha's Circle. "It's like the old Good Housekeeping seal of approval," she said. "She's put a stamp of approval on the quality of the sites and their fit with her brand. That goes a long way for users and advertisers."