New Site Brings 'Irreverent Honesty' to Parenting

Media Morph: Babble.com

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Babble.com
Babble.com promises to be funny and honest about parenting.
Babble.com promises to be funny and honest about parenting.

What it is: A new parenting website that intends to cover the funnier side of the job through essays by acclaimed humor writers; blogs; original and user-generated video; and columns such as "Bad Parent" and "Notes from a Non-Breeder."

Who's backing it: The new site comes from 9-year-old Nerve.com, the erotic -- and erudite -- online magazine that in 2005 was honored as a finalist in the General Excellence Online category at the National Magazine Awards. Considered a pioneer in the online magazine space, Nerve.com now boasts a run rate of about $4 million a year and makes about a 20% profit. Ad revenue is up about 80% so far this year.

Why launch it: Because most parenting coverage smacks of what Babble backers call an "infantilizing tone" and "acquisitive baby-as-accessory bent," Babble.com promises to be funny and honest about parenting. It also plans to feature great writing -- another ingredient it believes is missing in the typical parenting rag. And it will be equally appealing to men as it is to woman, said co-founder Rufus Griscom, who said the idea was born because there's been a lot of procreating around the office recently. "We were struck by the absence of a type of magazine and community we want to be a part of," he said. To be sure, this isn't your typical mommy mag.

The technology: "We thought the parenting sites have been behind the times on technology," Mr. Griscom said. Babble.com will employ user-generated video and a broader range of interaction -- polls, quizzes and photo-sharing. Babble is also an Ajax-powered site, which makes for an easier to use, more dynamic web page.

The business model: Almost all advertising, Nerve has signed on four advertisers at launch: Skip Hop, maker of diaper bags and other baby parenting products; Netto Collections, which sells high end cribs and furniture; Scandinavian Child, a distributor of Northern European baby products; and American Apparel. Mr. Griscom said the company is also talking to book publishers, movie studios, electronics manufacturers and pharmaceuticals.
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