Land Grab for Women Online

Lifetime, Warner Bros. Both Launch Female-Friendly Digital Networks

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Look out, iVillage. The women's digital-entertainment market officially got more crowded this week with the arrival of two female-targeted community sites with established brands and broad reach on their side.
Lifetime's partnership with Glam Media gives the cable channel something few TV brands can claim online: scale.
Lifetime's partnership with Glam Media gives the cable channel something few TV brands can claim online: scale.

First up is MyLifetime.com, the new online destination for Lifetime. The women's cable network is taking an ambitious stab at aggregating female entertainment online by partnering with the Glam Media network, along with RealArcade for games, Revolution Health for health content, About for how-to content and Hearst Digital for shared broadband-video and lifestyle channels.

Warner Bros. Television also is looking to expand its reach in the women's-entertainment category online. It launched MomLogic.com today to serve moms advice, short-form video and ads from charter sponsor Unilever.

Extending online reach
An increasing number of traditional players are eyeing digital networks as a smart way to extend their online reach. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia recently unveiled Martha's Circle, an ad-sales network composed of shelter- and lifestyle-related sites, such as Apartment Therapy, 101 Cookbooks and Style Me Pretty. MSLO estimates the network will generate almost 20 million ad views per month.

Like NBC's alliance with iVillage, Lifetime's partnership with Glam Media gives the cable channel something few TV brands can claim online: scale. Dan Suratt, Lifetime's exec VP-digital media, was hired by former Lifetime CEO Betty Cohen last year to expand the network's reach online, starting with a revamp of its old domain, LifetimeTV.com, in April.

The goal is to associate the Lifetime brand with lifestyle content online for the "woman who's dealing with the daily rigors of life in general and looking for an escape -- even if it's just for 20 minutes," Mr. Suratt said.

Women on the web
There's a land grab for the audience and market share NBC and iVillage have failed to dominate. The Glam portfolio of sites recently became the most trafficked women's network online (25.5 million visits in October 2007 vs. 18.5 million for iVillage), and Lifetime's site was head and shoulders above those of its cable competitors, Oxygen and We, in terms of traffic last month. With 2.3 million registered users on LifetimeTV.com (compared with 333,000 for Oxygen and 82,000 for We), MyLifetime.com has a good head start toward becoming a scaleable media community for women online.

Lifetime's online audience skews a good decade or so older than Glam's median age of 33. It's the boomer side of Lifetime's target demo that the two companies hope will drive the next wave of digital growth and social networking, according to Glam CEO Samir Arara. "They're extremely valuable. ... From a brand perspective, having a strong audience of 20s and 30s and adding to it 40s and 50s is a very normal continuation of the focus we've had."

To be successful, My Lifetime will need to build a robust ad network for the multitasking online woman. Glam has an extensive portfolio of fashion and beauty sites with advertisers such as P&G, Chevy Malibu and Neiman Marcus onboard, while Lifetime brings package-goods and food marketers Stouffer's, Dunkin' Donuts and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

My Lifetime plans to expand into social networking with profile pages and message boards in first-quarter 2008. This past summer, Lifetime scored a hit with "Army Wives," which had an even larger life online through its community of fans and real-life army wives. As a result, traffic to LifetimeTV.com in July surged to 3.7 million unique visits, nearly double the 1.97 million in January.

Strong TV brands
Like Lifetime, Warner Bros. has strong TV brands in its stable to lure its audience online: "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "The Tyra Banks Show." But syndicating content to other key mom blogs will play just as important a role in essentially building a new site from scratch, much in the same way the WB's TMZ.com was able to build buzz and scale before becoming a syndicated TV show this season.

Michael Teicher, exec VP-media sales for Warner Bros. Television Group, said the goal is for lightning to strike twice for the digital-to-TV model, with the help of daytime TV and the marketing team at Unilever to pitch in from the content side.

Unilever, the first sponsor of Warner Bros.' Mom Logic, knows a thing or two about the demo from its brands Dove and Suave, which launched its own branded web entertainment for the maternal set earlier this year with MSN and Sprint called In the Motherhood.

"There are sites out there that really serve the same target audience, whether it's selecting the best school for your children or finding the best coupons," Mr. Teicher said. "We will create affiliation agreements with them and that will allow us to cross-promote and drive our traffic."

Time will tell
While time will tell if the increased investment in women's digital entertainment will pay off in page views and digital dollars, buyers are still going to put their dollars where their worn-out marketing phrases are.

"It's kind of boring to say, but we really think content's king in this category," said Jeff Marshall, senior VP-digital managing director at Starcom/Pixel.

"It's a two-way street: You have a built-in understanding of the audience from the NBCs and Lifetimes of the world, but your audience are looking to them to produce that content as well. It makes sense, and with the tried-and-true women's-content creators, they don't necessarily have a firm understanding [of the ad component]," he said. "Creating ad space and filling that ad space more holistically by creating programs and ways to incorporate brands in more meaningful ways is where we need to go in the future."

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly noted that the Glam portfolio of sites received 25.5 million impressions in October 2007 vs. 18.5 million for iVillage. In fact, the 25.5 million represents visits. Also, the last name of Glam CEO Samir Arora was misspelled as Orara.
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