Hoping to add new marketing punch to the cluttered Internet entertainment category, sampling portal FirstLook is changing to an older demographic and adding new categories, such as TV.
FirstLook will announce a deal soon with Zap2it.com, a TV listings and entertainment site, for its own TV listing grids. Zap2it owner Tribune Media Services is the longtime leader in syndicating TV listings to newspapers around the country.
The listings deal would add to the agreement FirstLook made last week with Carsey-Werner Co. in which users can sample upcoming episodes of TV shows, such as "3rd Rock from the Sun." A sweepstakes, which will be promoted online, is also part of the deal in which one winner will get a walk-on role on one of Carsey-Werner's three networks shows, "3rd Rock" on NBC, "That '70s Show" on Fox and "Normal, Ohio," a new comedy on Fox. The Carsey-Werner deal is the first of many the site hopes to make with TV production companies.
FirstLook also will sell customized versions of its entertainment portal to Web portals that don't have time to aggregate entertainment content. FirstLook's massive entertainment library allows users to search more than 2.5 million songs, 10,000 movie titles, 400 videogames as well as TV programs.
While users can sample, they cannot download files from FirstLook -- thus avoiding copyright problems that other sites experience. Its traffic has grown to 600,000 unique visitors a month, up 50% from June, according to the site.
Launched about a year ago by two powerful venture capital companies -- Idealab, the incubator behind eToys and search engine GoTo.com, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, an Amazon.com venture capital backer -- FirstLook started as a promotional tool for record labels and music e-tailers, targeting college students.
Now it's going after a broader, older audience that's more likely to spend online.
"We found that there are a lot of different entertainment sites," said Justine Lassoff, VP-marketing for FirstLook.com, noting that few sites offer the sampling it does.
"People who are interested in this are an older demographic, who don't have time to search. Teens jump around from site to site."
TARGETING WEB BUYERS
FirstLook's target is the 25-to-49-year-old demographic. "They are people who purchase online, not necessarily college students," Ms. Lassoff said.
The entertainment category has been rocky, with sites Digital Entertainment Network and Pop.com fizzling this year. With the relaunch, FirstLook is recognizing its business model was failing. It abandoned the plan in which record labels would pay FirstLook for every song sampled on the site.
For instance, after each song on its site, FirstLook would add a note, such as, "Advertiser cost: 13›." A record label would pay that amount for each downloaded sample.
The note also was to be an incentive for labels who, by paying more, would see their songs rise in FirstLook's music charts. FirstLook scrapped that approach because record companies weren't willing to pay it.
FirstLook's new model calls for generating revenue primarily from advertising.
While there are many entertainment sites, Ms. Lassoff said FirstLook is an all-purpose entertainment sampling portal. Yahoo! Shopping is perhaps the closest rival, she said, that offers some entertainment sampling as well as entertainment products for sale.
FirstLook's $10 million to $15 million offline media and creative has been at Wong Doody, Los Angeles, since February. Online media and creative is handled in-house.