Traveling the Web may be as tiring as touring all of Europe

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'Popular Mechanics' tunes up its Web site

Hearst magazines' Popular Mechanics took live an in-house Web redesign last week that doubles the brand's online content to 10,000 screens, but reduces the number of sponsors on the site to zero.

That's not to say the site never had sponsors. In its 18-month history Popular Mechanics' standalone site signed auto advertisers Toyota Motor Sales USA, General Motors Corp.'s Saturn, Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln Mercury along with Valvoline, Kawasaki and the U.S. Army.

"Over the past three or four months we haven't been taking new advertising," said Bill Congdon, Popular Mechanics' marketing director. "It's not the right time for a lot of our advertisers, so we wanted to hold off to promote this thing in its new form."

CONTENT ON HOME AND CAR CARE

Originally, the site considered beefing up automotive coverage and then decided on a redesign that would also incorporate a major increase in content across the board including information on home improvement, car care and other lifestyle topics.

An online campaign from Response Ability Marketing, Norwalk, Conn., launches this month.

Mr. Congdon and his sales staff are starting fresh with new banner rates (slightly higher, with more page views guaranteed) and offering a brand-based buy, encouraging marketers to work on integrated packages for Popular Mechanics which has a TV show on the Discovery Channel.

'SMART THING IN REFRESHING'

Banner prices are $7,500 per month with discounts for frequency and print advertisers; advertorial content is $10,500 per month. The site, audited by Internet Profiles, logs 100,000 unique visitors and serves 600,000 page views each month.

"Our [advertising] on the site was fairly effective before," said Tim Reisen, VP-research and new media at Young & Rubicam, Detroit, which handles the Lincoln Mercury business. "One thing we were a little hesitant about was the question of whether Popular Mechanics was an automotive or a lifestyle site. They did a smart thing in refreshing this way."

Hearst's umbrella site HomeArts blends content from multiple company titles, including Popular Mechanics, but addresses more women. According to a recent site survey, Popular Mechanics' audience is almost all male (96%).

Copyright September 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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