Until now the company has subsisted almost entirely on its magazines' newsstand sales, especially the celebrity weeklies In Touch and Life & Style. The company's European model (inherited from its German owners) treated advertising as secondary and robust companion sites as likely cannibals. But by creating an ad-supported destination online, Bauer is signaling a broadening business model.
"Bauer has proven themselves in the magazine arena," said Ian Scott, president of Bauer Advertising Sales. "We start with something that we think is a great concept that is going to appeal to an audience."
"This is a testament to the fact that over the years we've invested heavily in building a top-quality ad sales department at Bauer," he added, "and we feel confident that we can launch products that can be completely supported by advertising."
The new site goes up against stiff competition. The big teen sites include Alloy.com, with 4.5 million unique visitors in April, according to ComScore Media Metrix; MyYearbook.com, with 3.6 million uniques; the combined Hearst Teen Network, with 3.4 million; The-N.com, where shows such as "Degrassi" live online, with 3.4 million; and many more.
Bauer has big teen brands of its own in magazines such as M, J-14 and Twist, but their sites aren't tremendously deep. 4TNZ.com will try to draw a crowd with reader-submitted stories about embarrassing moments, streaming video, quizzes and "phunny" photos.
"This is a website that takes the most exciting part of the internet, streaming video, combined with editorial oversight," said Bauer Teen Group Publisher Ryan McConville. "We're controlling the content somewhat to make it safe for teens and welcoming to advertisers without losing what's appealing to these kids in the first place, which is the spontaneity, the user-generated sections."