NBCU Invests in BlogHer for iVillage; Sets Up Ad Network

President Lauren Zalaznick: 'We're Going to Bring It to a Rapid Boil'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Some new residents are settling down in NBC Universal's iVillage. In a sign of how the General Electric media unit views the property, the company today said its Peacock Equity capital-investment arm helped finance a $5 million investment in BlogHer, an online community for female bloggers.
The partnership gives iVillage access to BlogHer's network of 2,200 different blogs helmed by women, as well as promotional opportunities across BlogHer's audience.
The partnership gives iVillage access to BlogHer's network of 2,200 different blogs helmed by women, as well as promotional opportunities across BlogHer's audience.

BlogHer and iVillage have entered into a strategic partnership that gives iVillage access to BlogHer's network of 2,200 different blogs helmed by women, as well as promotional opportunities across BlogHer's audience. As part of the pact, iVillage, Oxygen.com and BravoTV.com will feature select BlogHer content. Peacock Equity is a joint venture between NBC Universal and GE Commercial Finance's Media, Communications and Entertainment business. Venture-capital firm Venrock is a partner in the financing.

"I feel like the women's digital market is on simmer, and we're going to bring it to a rapid boil," said Lauren Zalaznick, president-Women and Lifestyle Entertainment networks for NBC Universal.

Zalaznick's iVillage
The deal illustrates how iVillage is developing under Ms. Zalaznick, who was given oversight of the property earlier this year. Since NBC Universal purchased iVillage for about $600 million in 2006, it has been dogged with questions about whether it overpaid for the asset. Traffic to the site was stagnant in the first year after the acquisition, and a TV show based on the site, "iVillage Live," never took off -- even though it had two different incarnations. The purchase was spearheaded by Beth Comstock, who rose to become president-integrated media at NBC Universal and recently returned to General Electric as chief marketing officer, a post she had held previously.

Now Ms. Zalaznick is supervising the site and has melded it into an informal ad-sales network known as Women@NBC. Comprised of BravoTV.com, Oxygen.com, iVillage and entertainment-oriented Sugar Inc., the network aims to give advertisers a way to reach a range of female consumers. Sales forces from BlogHer and Women@NBCU will collaborate on joint ad deals. NBC Universal recently unveiled an ad deal that created a sponsorship for Wal-Mart across iVillage and NBC's "Today" program.

Ms. Zalaznick said she envisions more ways to develop content that can target women according to interests -- such as pregnancy and parenting, fitness or fashion -- rather than solely by age, the more traditional means of segmenting consumers. Marketers are interested in finding people in various life stages, she said. "I care about people who want to lose weight, whether they are 26, 36 or 46."
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