Trying to capture the attention of the ever-growing number of women online and the ad dollars they attract, several women's interest sites are planning fall launches or overhauls.
Community-based iVillage in November will roll out Life Soup-The Women's Network, packaging 10 sites to help advertisers target women audiences.
The network sites include iVillage's existing content areas Parent Soup, ParentsPlace, About Work, and Better Health & Medical, along with six other sites in development. The new sites will fall under finance, fitness, food, sex and relationships categories.
LINING UP SPONSORS
Currently iVillage is trying to line up 12 premiere sponsors for Life Soup, charging roughly $500,000 for a one-year sponsorship across the network. Currently, advertisers pay $100,000 for six-month sponsorships, and $180,000 for 12-month sponsorships, on individual content areas.
A group of charter advertisers will be announced next month in addition to those already advertising on existing sites. Better Health, for instance, claims about $3 million in ad dollars from companies including Astra-Merck, Merck & Co. and Tenet Healthcare. Combined, the iVillage sites draw about 51 million page views per month.
Also last week, iVillage's Better Health launched a Web site in addition to having a content area on AOL.
"Women are a very, very important economic force," said Candice Carpenter, chairwoman-CEO of iVillage. "Whoever captures their online hearts and minds early on will have a significant advantage over time."
Analysts agree women could help push non-traditional Web advertisers such as package goods companies into more online advertising.
STAMPEDE NOT IMMINENT
Women are an important emerging group online, but a stampede of advertisers to women's sites is not imminent, at least in the short term, said Peter Storck, group director of online advertising at Jupiter Communications.
"It still takes a little while for the advertising to follow the content and the women visiting those sites," he said. "If you build it, they will come has proved to be way too optimistic a business plan for online content providers in the last few years."
However, he added, "These are shrewd publishing companies that see the value and will make the money down the road."
Other sites planning new looks and features for women include Meredith Corp's Ladies Home Journal Online and Hearst New Media's HomeArts network.
In the past few weeks, other women-targeted Web services have hit the Net, including Women's Forum, an ad network aimed at women-oriented sites; and PointCast Network's ParentTime at Work channel, with content from Time Warner Cable Programming and Procter & Gamble Productions' ParentTime site.
LHJ REVAMPS WEB SITE
LHJ Online today unveils a re-vamped site with a leap in interactivity achieved by video streaming and Java-enhanced applications. Before the redesign, the online LHJ mostly repurposed content from its print version.
Now, for instance, the popular feature "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" from the print version presents different couples online, with audio and video from online psychologists.
In addition to existing advertisers, LHJ Online has picked up advertising from the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, with its milk-mustached celebs campaign.
LHJ will also be trying to line up sponsorships of content areas on the sites.
HEARST TO LAUNCH MONEY MINDED
Also targeting women online, Hearst's HomeArts network will create a site called Money Minded in early October, which will feature content on careers, investing, retirement and other topics.
HomeArts will use a combination of sponsorships and banner advertisement packages, although no advertisers have been announced yet.
Debra McMahon, VP of Mercer Management Consulting, said advertisers are facing problems such as historically low Nielsen ratings.
"A significant cause of that is people going online. The share of eyeballs has gone down in television. If you are an advertiser who wants to reach women, you have to go where women are. And research shows a lot of people coming online now are women," she said.
Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.