CondeNet yesterday said its focus for Flip, a 10-month-old virtual scrapbook site for teen girls, would shift to ad-supported Flip applications that run on much more popular networking sites such as Facebook. The move underscores the difficulty growing that many teen sites are having. Traffic at Flip peaked last May, when the site attracted 468,000 unique visitors, according to ComScore; that figure fell to just 104,000 last December.
Yesterday's move looked like a retreat from earlier ambitions, but CondeNet President Sarah Chubb said she was excited about the change. The site's concept was sound, she said, but reaching its target audience was simply much easier to do elsewhere on the web. Given the reduced headcount, too, traffic from current Flip users and any new ones attracted by applications elsewhere would produce higher margins on ad sales, she said.
"One of the reasons we're excited about it is that if you're a company like ours, one of the challenges is to constantly try to figure out, as the user behavior landscape changes, how does it affect your business model," Ms. Chubb added. "If it doesn't grow as fast as my ideal would be, we're not risking much of anything. It's 10 months into the life of the brand and we'll probably shift again. I bet in six months it's slightly different again."
Ms. Chubb said she expects to find new assignments for everyone who had been working on Flip. Jane Grenier, who was named publisher one year ago, will remain at CondeNet, focusing on the new direction of Flip for the next few months as well as new projects; Ms. Chubb said Ms. Grenier will eventually be named to a new long-term assignment.