The first global marketer to jump on board the Elle Channel (www.elle.com), unveiled last month, is Estee Lauder Cos.' Clinique cosmetic brand, which wants to reach the fast-growing, but often forgotten, online women audience at the international level.
"In Europe, we're also the first Web service to attract a cosmetic company with push technology," said Patrice Schneider, deputy managing director of Hachette Filipacchi Grolier, Hachette's online publishing unit.
AC Nielsen recently reported that women are the fastest growing user segment on the Internet, accounting for 42% of international Net users, compared with 34% last year.
Unlike established U.S.-focused online ventures, such as the PointCast Network, Procter & Gamble Co.'s ParentTime or Hearst Corp.'s HomeArts, Mr. Schneider said the Elle Channel's service-based content-offering tips on shopping, cooking, health and beauty-is truly multilingual, multicultural and designed for home-based women.
HFG is using technology supplied by push company BackWeb Technologies and Microsoft Corp.'s latest Internet Explorer 4.0 browser to offer localized versions of the same ads and content in different countries.
The channel currently amalgamates Elle's eight national online editions, including the U.S., Japan, Spain, French-speaking Canada, South Korea and Germany, featuring original local content in national languages. The service also customizes editorial from Elle's 29 local print editions.
"We're different because we're truly international. We direct the right information to the right audience. The women in Japan are different from those in France," said Laurent Negrier, general manager at Interdeco Multimedia, HFG's sales unit. "The Elle Channel reflects the different cultural needs instead of a bland common denominator page.
"Clinique is a global advertiser wanting to localize its messages and is looking for a new way to attract women from different cultures" to its products, said Mr. Negrier.
The localized advertising and content also allow Clinique to test consumers' reaction to products in other markets, he added.
HFG plans to have 12 online versions by yearend.
The Elle Channel provides international marketers a one-stop shop for placing ads instead of traipsing to various local sites. Moreover, the BackWeb technology recognizes a user's country of origin and retrieves locally relevant ad banners, regardless of which local online edition is accessed. It also sends a summary of content from local sites to the Elle Channel's home page.
Once inside the system, a regularly updated daily teaser, which Marketing Director Deirdre O'Callaghan called "unintrusive," appears on the page. Should users choose to click the teaser, it retrieves a headline promoting a new service on the channel or highlights a news item.
"Clinique can use [audit software] NetVerity to see how the banners are working and follow how they are being used in real time," Mr. Schneider explained.
OUR VERSIONS IN IE 4.0
Also, Internet Explorer's latest version includes a push system that allows users to retrieve localized versions of the Elle Channel by clicking the Elle logo. HFG has clinched a worldwide deal with Microsoft launching different versions in four countries: France, Japan, Spain and Belgium.
The Elle Channel will be promoted on the different Elle Web sites, in the print