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To Bolster Teen Reach Online, Hearst Buys ECrush.com

'Seventeen,' 'CosmoGirl' Sites to Get Updates Next Month

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In the latest digital play by a major print publisher, Hearst Magazines acquired eCrush.com, an entertainment and community network for teens and young adults.
ECrush has more than 2.4 million users registered.
ECrush has more than 2.4 million users registered.

The eCrush properties include eCrush.com, which allows users to anonymously find out whether someone they like feels the same way; eSpinTheBottle.com, a profile-based flirting site that screens young people's submissions before they go live; and High School Style Board, a photo-rating site with categories such as "best hair," "hottest overall" and "most emo."

Terms were not disclosed, but Hearst said the properties produced 2006 earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization of $1.4 million.

Search for young consumers
Whatever the investment, the buy emphasizes Hearst's commitment to finding young consumers however it can, which can't mean just printed pages any more. After all, last year saw Time Inc. close the print edition of Teen People, a former juggernaut, and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. shut down Elle Girl in print, although the magazine's circulation and ad pages were both growing steadily. Both brands persist as digital properties.

For its part, Hearst just said goodbye to Atoosa Rubenstein, who had become prominent as editor in chief at Seventeen magazine. Ms. Rubenstein told Advertising Age that she looked forward to establishing a less-filtered dialogue with "her girls" through a new web venture.

Hearst's acquisition shows that the company sees the same potential in digital channels, particularly for young consumers. Hearst also plans to introduce MyPromShopper.com later this month. Its CosmoGirl.com, Seventeen.com and TeenMag.com sites get new looks, content and functions in February.

'Everywhere they turn'
"As social networking and interactivity online become an integral part of teenagers' lives, we want to be everywhere they turn," Chuck Cordray, VP-general manager at Hearst Magazines Digital Media, said in a statement. "The addition of the eCrush network allows Hearst to broaden our presence in the online arena for teens and become a true destination for everything from fashion and beauty to advice and community."
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