ABC anchor Dan Abrams is placing a bet on the so-called geek girl, merging his company's four-year-old geek culture site Geekosystem into its three-year-old female-focused TheMarySue.
Abrams Media introduced the redesigned TheMarySue on Friday, with expanded coverage in science, tech, space and internet oddities, which had been staples on Geekosystem. Staffers from Geekosystem are now writing for TheMarySue. There were no layoffs, Abrams Media said.
TheMarySue will continue to cover topics like video games, movies, anime and celebrities. It has seen rapid growth in the past year, with mobile and desktop traffic climbing to 973,000 unique visitors in April, up 37% from the prior year, according to ComScore.
Geekosystem's unique visitors declined 17% to 667,000 during that time.
"We're talking about things with a female voice that many people aren't talking to women about," said Bridget Williams, president of Abrams Media. The site has, at the same time, garnered attention from men. "We intended on a geek girl voice, but it resonates with lots of men," she added, while promising the tone wouldn't change. "We're not going to bro it up."
Geek culture often refers to people who are deeply interested in tech, gadgets and pop culture. In a Wired magazine article from 2010, comedian and author Patton Oswald described the experience of being a geek (or, in his case, a nerd) in the 1980s:
The geek culture Mr. Oswald describes has surged into the mainstream (something he laments in the Wired story), with Hollywood studios looking to superhero and sci-fi films as their summer tentpoles and Comic-Con becoming nearly as hot a ticket as Sundance or Cannes. But the press about it still seems to skew male, perhaps leaving an opportunity for coverage catering toward women.
"Geek is the new mainstream," Ms. Williams said. "One reason we're doubling down on the geek girl is that we feel the advertising opportunity is huge."
TheMarySue's audience is more engaged audience than that of Geekosystem, she said. When, for instance, TheMarySue put out a request for unpaid bloggers, it quickly received about 350 responses from people interested in contributing to the site for free. "I spent a long time at previous jobs trying to get a few hundred contributors," said Ms. Williams, who has worked at Business Insider and The New York Times.
About 60% of TheMarySue's ad revenue, which Ms. Williams would not disclose, stems from programmatic ad sales. In the coming weeks, Abrams Media plans to introduce a private ad exchange with ad-tech firm Pubmatic. The exchange offers key advertisers additional features in exchange for a higher price floor, according to Ms. Williams.
But the goal, she added, is to increase the site's direct-sold ad campaigns, which typically involve content marketing. In addition to advertising, TheMarySue is also introducing a merchandise line in partnership with apparel maker We Love Fine, Ms. Williams said.