The Women's Forum (www.womensforum.com), founded in November, is a network of 12 sites with an aggregate of 15 million impressions a month, primarily from female users.
"We saw that the women's market was under-served," said Jodi Turek, president and co-founder of the network, adding that despite loyal users, women's sites don't break the million mark in daily impressions as some search engines do.
The network sites for women range in usage from almost 5 million a month at Super Model (www.supermodel.com); to Girl Tech (www.girltech.com) with 150,000; to USA Bride (www.usabride.com), which generates 400,000 impressions and is one of six bridal sites in the network; to Garden Escape (www.garden.com) with 1.5 million monthly impressions.
MatchLogic is providing the ad serving technology, auditing and targeting for the network, which aims at females 8-40.
NO SPONSORS YET
While no advertisers have yet signed on with Women's Forum, Ms. Turek said the network is in negotiations with clients from health & beauty, financial and telecommunications categories and also is talking to advertisers from high-tech and various consumer goods sectors.
Banners cost an average $38 per thousand impressions, depending on a site's traffic and the level of targeting done with information from survey results.
Not all women's sites are suffering from advertiser neglect. Hearst New Media's HomeArts (www.
homearts.com) leverages its print advertising connections online, and the Web-only Women's Wire (www.womenswire.com) has maintained a monthly base of 2.9 million impressions to attract advertisers such as Levi Strauss & Co., L.L. Bean and General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile Cutlass brand, as well as content partnerships with Yahoo! and Rodale Press.
EFFICIENCY IN A NETWORK
But those are the exceptions. Advertisers and the bulk of women's sites could profit from the efficiency in such a network, said Ben Addoms, senior VP-marketing and sales at MatchLogic. To buy ads separately on 20 small- to medium-size sites is "too time-consuming to be worthwhile," Mr. Addoms said.
With the network, advertisers can pick from banner packages-such as lifestyle or bridal sites-or run sweepstakes or sponsorships.
While vertical audiences in the small- to mid-size sites are a good core, Women's Forum "needs critical mass to attract larger advertisers," said Kate Delhagen, senior analyst at Forrester Research. It might behoove the network to add a general-interest site with mass, such as a search engine that has 40% female users, Ms. Delhagen added.
The network will also have to prove to advertisers it is delivering the targeted audience it promises, she said, adding that the proof of that will lie in renewals.