Felicity Huffman, Vanessa Hudgens Join Celebrity-Backed Blog Network
There are horizontal ad networks and vertical networks. Enter the celebrity ad network.
This week, a digital talent-management agency called Digital Media Management is launching the Women's Influencer Network -- or WIN -- with a collection of nine websites backed by nine different female celebrities, such as Vanessa Hudgens and Felicity Huffman.
Digital Media Management and, in turn, WIN are the brainchild of Luigi Picarazzi, the former longtime personal assistant of the actress Nicole Kidman. During his five years as Ms. Kidman's assistant -- and in the years that followed -- Mr. Picarazzi identified the opportunity in helping celebrities manage their personal brands in social media and on other digital-media platforms, which is what DMM was founded to do.
And his experience later as a web producer for Disney proved there was a big opportunity for advertising and sponsorships around celebrity content as well, leading to the idea for WIN."Sponsors were very much interested in anything related to the talent," Mr. Picarazzi said of his time at Disney.
Ms. Huffman's site is WhatTheFlicka.com, a new content site for moms which Ms. Huffman described in a recent interview with Ad Age as "a virtual kitchen or virtual bathroom where we can all sit around and trade advice."
In creating that virtual place, Ms. Huffman -- who has starred in "Desperate Housewives" and "Transamerica" -- also created an environment in which it was safe to not always be in love with being a mom. "It doesn't have to always be rose-colored and happy all the time because it's an incredibly hard job," she said.
Ms. Huffman's last post, for example, was titled "I Hate You, You Dumb F*cker," (though it should be noted that the title was a quote of one of Ms. Huffman's daughters to another, not Ms. Huffman to a child). She tries to publish two to three of her own posts a week, and has a stable of contributors as well.
Ms. Huffman is providing the financial support for the site, but hopes that WIN can at some point help push the economics in her favor.
"Yes, I would like to not be paying for this out of my own pocket," Ms. Huffman said. "At a certain point, the goal is to have it live on its own and pay for itself."
The digital network also includes Hellogiggles.com, co-founded by Zooey Deschanel, and YouMeAndCharlie.com, created by Glee's Dianna Agron. Mr. Picarazzi's Digital Media Management has helped some of the sites land advertising already, but said that combining the properties into one asset will help advertisers get the "massive reach" they desire.
"Massive" seems a bit farfetched, at least for now. Mr. Picarazzi says the sites are getting a combined 4 million monthly unique visitors; ComScore only has data on two of the nine, including Hellogiggles.com, which it said registered 478,000 unique visitors in April. But Mr. Picarazzi believes the network's promise goes beyond advertising to include sponsored posts that could be distributed and promoted on the network of sites, as well as social-media promotions that take advantage of the women's combined 20 million followers on Facebook and Twitter.