BabyCenter.com enters online parent zine field

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With strong financial backing and commitments from major advertisers, BabyCenter, San Francisco, is launching a Web site today aimed at new parents. BabyCenter.com, whose financial backers include Broderbund Software and IDG Ventures, is hitting the Web with yearlong sponsorship commitments from five major advertisers, among them Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble Co.

According to Mark Selcow, president of BabyCenter.com, the site's appeal to advertisers will be its tight focus on pregnancy and infancy.

STRONG COMPETITION

"BabyCenter.com focuses on an audience that is very desirable. For advertisers, the home opens up to new brands that parents and expectant parents never thought of buying before," Mr. Selcow said.

Gary Arlen, president of consultancy Arlen Communications, noted strong competition in the new-parents market, including iVillage's Parent Soup and other sites provided by parenting networks.

FEES UP TO $300,000

But he added that a well-run site could do very well for itself. "The key is how the Web takes advantage of interactivity. As new parents, you always have questions. On the Web, you can have these questions answered when they come up."

Procter & Gamble's sponsorship of BabyCenter serves to underscore that company's commitment to the Web. P&G is a partner in another Web site, ParentTime a joint venture with Time Warner Cable Programming.

The initial sponsors of BabyCenter.com have paid fees ranging from $50,000 to $300,000 for their yearlong commitments.

Fees are based on the number of pages an advertiser sponsors, as well as a guarantee to each sponsor of a predetermined number of impressions.

EX-TIME STAFFERS CONTRIBUTE

Much of the site's content is being provided by ex-staffers of Time Publishing Ventures' Parenting. Parenting's editorial offices were recently relocated to New York from San Francisco, and many editorial and design staffers who chose not to move are working for BabyCenter.com, according to Mr. Selcow.

Content will include daily news updates, information on product recalls relevant to new parents and news from medical journals.

BabyCenter.com has also assembled a staff of 17 medical advisers--including pediatricians, OB/GYNs and nurse educators--who will review all health and medical content.

While the site is attractive to obvious candidates, like Procter & Gamble's Pampers diapers and Johnson & Johnson's Baby product line, some less likely advertisers have also signed on.

For example, Charles Schwab & Co., the discount brokerage firm, has signed on as a sponsor to encourage new parents to set up a college fund.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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