Women vertical segments: Part 1 The Portals

The December figures from ComScore have been published pretty recently. One of the most sought after category across the Internet BtoC content publishers is the woman audience, which has gained +50% over the course of the last 15 months, from 72m UVs in October 2008 to 102m UVs in December 2008. In the meantime, the total audience on the internet only went from 182m to 191m UVs .

In the gigantic and much too broad ComScore “Women” category, you’ll find Men’s Vogue along with microscopic niche blogs aggregated by Glam, large portals, or gaming sites along with makeover tools and women’s health related sites. ComScore, answering to the repetitive complaints from the publishers about the category has recently decided to break it down into several smaller categories such as Fashion and Beauty, Women’s Services, Food, etc.

In this mess, everyone tries to exist and agitates its flags towards the ad agencies and the advertisers. Some of them are selling “vertical” networks with “targeted” audiences, while other are pushing their scale or relying on their offline assets to drive the growth of their properties.

Let’s take a look at the different actors and strategies:

Part 1 – The Portals

It’s obviously easy living for them (at least vs. the other actors) since they benefit largelly from their owners’ homepage promotion.

All of them are using the same strategy content-wise: aggregation of partners content against linkbacks and creation of original content through a small editorial team.

  • AOL Living:  managed by Stephanie Dolgins, the portal’s women segment has been very active throughout the year and launched several vertically focused sites. You’ll find PopEaters for celebrity content, Stylelist for fashion and beauty, Lemondrop for “edgy” / teen oriented content etc. The segment grew from 11.9m UVs in October 2007 to 20.6m UVs in December 2008. On these vertically oriented sites, you’ll find very little branding of the existing AOL brand except for AOL Health, Food and Home.

 

  • Yahoo! launched Yahoo! Shine early 2008. Headed by Brandon Holley, Shine is an horizontal site catering most of women needs through a format very close to the blog. The content aggregation is tentatively a little more edgy than the bulk of AOL sites (which is also supported through the inclusion of less “established” partners and small blogs). The site, through heavy promotion on the Yahoo! homepage, grew from 6.6m UVs in April 2008 at its launch to 13.3m UVs in December 2008.

 

  • MSN Lifestyle is also trying to grab the same market, mostly using the same strategies with a mix of aggregated content, mostly from established partners, and very little original content (probably the portal investing the less in original content).  The portal’s segment has been flat to declining over the last year (8.7m UVs in October 2007 vs. 7.8m UVs in December 2008). Following some of its competitors strategy, MSN launched a vertically focused site around food called Delish in partnership with Hearst. The publisher is providing 100% of the content as well as designing and powering the site whereas MSN is focused on promotion and ad sales. Delish is probably the first one out but, unless the portal changes strategy, it should be followed by additional sites to grab fashion, beauty, entertainment etc.

What’s striking is that all of the portals are focusing close to 100% of their strategies on content pure. You won’t find innovative tools and applications past the now spreadout makeover tool or the astrology iPhone app. Communities are only funneled through classical content comments and videos are also not very spread out on their sites.

Here’s the 15-month lookout from ComScore for all of these portals women subsites.

Part 2 will be on the Women Ad Networks… Stay tuned…

8 degrees F

The M&A outlook for the online space keeps on getting bleaker…

I was going through the latest AdMedia Partners report on the prospects for Media Mergers and Acquisitions (you can find it here ). 

Out of the fact that the underlying message is pretty much the same as what you can read in any newspaper or the likes of PaidContent (bleaker economy outlook, low multiples, at least 4 quarters of recession coming up etc.), the interesting piece is the consensus to say that online targets are overvalued(55% of respondents).

And the growth opportunities for online are also seen as overrated, specifically for social media networks (71%), user generated content (51%) or ad networks (41%).

The good news for any buyer who has the cash and the guts to acquire now  is that multiples are down from last year: Online media is valued at 9 to 10x EBITDA in 2009 (to be proven) vs. 12 to 15x in 2008. 

But we all know that this is not going to help the tradional media players which are all crawling back into fetal positions. I was listening to a panel at Gridley Conference in NYC featuring media companies corporate dev executive (Jessica Schell from NBCU, Bill Mills from Forbes, Michael Zeisser from Liberty Media and John Zieser from Meredith) and the general feeling was that they were all going to pause for a while on the acquisition front. Maybe go after alliances but, at least Forbes and Meredith, rule out straight acquisitions for Q1 and Q2 2009.  Another discussion I got with an executive at Conde Nast also confirmed that the usually lavish company decided to limit or even discard its internet investments for 2009.

So strategic buyers are probably not going to be some much more active that the bleeding financial guys for now…

Nate swearing in…

On a MacBook for the office of organizer of the NY Tech Meetup

The long tail of monetization: another battle nearly lost for traditional publishers

Good recap from Ad Age on the tensions underlying the online advertising. Basically, when a traditional publisher finally get to identify a high quality audience, that he managed to brought on his site through content investments etc., he’s only getting the smallest piece of the pie (the amount monetized on the site itself)…

 

The “long tail” of the monetization is then usually captured by the ad networks for a cheaper rate, helped on that by the many behavioral providers (Revenue Science, Tacoda etc.). It’s ironic because what makes these users valuable to advertisers is precisely the fact that they’ve been through and interact with the original publisher site.

 

The only way to escape the vicious circle is for publishers to concentrate vertically. That’s what we’ve done at Hachette with the acquisition of Jumpstart Automotive that offers behavioral targeting solutions, enabling us to capture most of the monetization long tail.

 

Here’s the full article: http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=133523

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Getting out of the slopes

Last day on the boat 7:30 AM

Julie Morizet
Cultural Affairs
Director, Special Events
French Institute Alliance Francaise
22 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022
(646) 388-6669
jmorizet@fiaf.org

Getting out of the slopes

Last day on the boat 7:30 AM

Julie Morizet
Cultural Affairs
Director, Special Events
French Institute Alliance Francaise
22 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022
(646) 388-6669
jmorizet@fiaf.org

BVI

Breakfast at the Virgin Gorda Sound

Pichon Longueville Baron 1988 – Very vivid

So I finally tasted the first of the 6 bottles that I bought the other day at Morrell for a very cheap price (http://tinyurl.com/6j49a7).

The wine was a Chateau Longueville from the Baron Pichon Longueville (usually called Pichon Baron to distinguish it from the Chateau Pichon from the Countess of Lalande…) 1988.

I was a bit weary of what to expect since 1988 is clearly not a great year in the Bordeaux area, far less known than 1990 or even 1989. It’s a Pauillac (Medoc area).

Well, I have to say that Julie and I were blown away by the quality and texture of it.

With 20 years of maturing, the wine had a very soft, silken texture on the first mouth. But then the wine was very powerful after a couple of seconds in the mouth, with a long finish of red berries, some flavors of licorice and even gingerbread. First nose was very discreet but after 30 to 45 minutes, it opened dramatically.

Overall, it is probably in my top 20 of the past 12 months at a very reasonable price. Parker gave it a 90 and referenced it as a Past Glory of Pichon Baron.

Looking forward tasting the remaining 5 left…