Media companies target female demographic

Estrogen-infused websites are all the rage these days as an increasing number of media companies, often backed by venture capitalists, are going online to reach the all-important female demographic. Women are responding in kind by clicking on as visitors and contributors in record numbers.

“The Web has become the No. 1 medium for women for information and entertainment,” says Glam Media CEO Samir Arora.

Adds Blog Her co-founder Lisa Stone: “Women are already the world’s most powerful consumers. Now we’re dominating the Internet as creatives.”

Here’s a look at the digital movers and shakers who are upping the ante by creating new ways for women to become part of the growing sisterhood online, using the latest technology and old-fashioned marketing savvy.

GLAM MEDIA

Key players: Samir Arora, chairman (the original investor of $1.1 million); Joe Lagani, VP-g.m., Glam Living; Carl Portale, VP-publishing director; Avril Graham, editorial director; Mike Meyers, VP-g.m., Glam Family.

The vibe: The haute spot for the “Sex and the City” aspirational crowd, flagship Glam.com is the No. 1 website for women in the U.S. (It overtook iVillage in October.) Launched in September 2005 with Glam Style (encompassing fashion, beauty and shopping), its Publisher’s Network accesses 550 content providers, including Lifetime and CBS. Includes a slick online magazine, huge video site and blog network. “We understand that women have different personas that are filled by different types of media,” says Arora.

Traffic: Just under 41 million uniques for June.

New & noteworthy: There’s something new (Glam Television, Glam Health) just about every week. Just-launched Glam Family is sure to give category stalwarts some stiff competition.

The verdict: It’s a Glam world; we just live in it.

AOL LIVING

Key players: Bill Wilson, executive VP, AOL Programming; Stephanie Dolgins, senior VP-g.m.; Rachel Campos-Duffy, celebrity blogger and parenting guru.

The vibe: A somewhat generic information hub for “busy women who go online to get things done,” says Dolgins. The site encompasses Health, StyleList (fashion), Food, Home, Horoscopes and newest addition ParentDish.

Traffic: 16.3 million uniques in June.

New & noteworthy: Original programming in all verticals and the relaunch of StyleList began this month include integrated blogs and Yadda, an interactive Q&A platform.

The verdict: More homespun than hip (fashion advice from “Dancing With the Stars” alum Julianne Hough) but the sheer breadth of content (especially in health) keeps it a contender.

IVILLAGE

Key players: Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal’s Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks; Deborah Fine, president, iVillage Properties; Carla Wojnaroski, senior veep/editor-in-chief.

The vibe: The mother of all female-friendly sites. Launched in 1995 and acquired by NBC Universal in 2006. “It’s where women come to talk to each other,” says chief marketing officer Linda Boff. With 800 message boards (the one for military wives is buzzing), there’s no shortage of conversation. Motherhood was topic A from day one and still is. There’s plenty of synergy with NBC: “Today’s” Meredith Vieira blogs almost daily; Tori Spelling had a guest editor stint.

Traffic: 15.8 million uniques in June. For the first quarter of this year, the site’s Pregnancy & Parenting channel averaged more than 34 million page views.

New & noteworthy: The you-go-girl “Momtourage” initiative sponsored by Wal-Mart launched last month with a “Today” show tie-in; Daily Blabber, the new entertainment channel, is the site’s most popular blog.

The verdict: Pregnant with possibilities, the iconic site shows no signs of slowing down.

SHINE

Key players: Brandon Holley, g.m./editor-in-chief; Vertical editors include Jennifer Romolini (fashion and beauty), Charlene Birkeland (parenting) and Erin Flaherty (love and sex).

The vibe: The contributors on Yahoo’s new website for women go out of their way to steer clear of fawning over celebrities, fashion and the latest trends. Recent posts include “Things We Don’t Get: Eva Longoria” and “Mistakes I’ve Made: The Crochet Bikini.” Reads and looks a bit like a younger cousin of the Huffington Post.

Traffic: Just over four months old, the site notched an impressive 10.4 million uniques for June. “We’re getting several hundreds of blog posts by users every day,” says Holley.

New & noteworthy: The site relies as much on visitors’ posts as it does on its editors and partners Conde Nast, Hearst, Time Inc. and Rodale for content A news and opinion vertical is slated for an upcoming launch.

The verdict: This newcomer’s sassy, unapologetically ironic attitude coupled with its high-powered media hookups is sure to attract a lot of attention from the 40 million women who already visit Yahoo. The one to watch.

BLOGHER

Key players: Founders Jory Des Jardins, Elisa Camahort Page and Lisa Stone.

The vibe: A network of 2,200 affiliates with 13,000-plus blogs on everything from knitting to politics. “We don’t care how big your blog is, we care how good it is,” says Stone. Body image (A Letter to My Body) is a hot new vertical. Posts span Iraq, health care, the economy and the environment. Fortune 500 advertising supports more than 2,000 select blogs (more than half devoted to parenting) that earn bloggers up to six-figure incomes based on number of impressions. “Some of our bloggers are more popular than major metropolitan dailies,” says Stone.

Traffic: 8 million uniques in June

New & noteworthy: In-depth election coverage from bloggers; “Midlife Muse,” who will blog about child-free living.

The verdict: Terrific writing and actually helping women get paid to do it puts this site in a class by itself.

WOWOWOW

Key players: Five high-profile women have kicked in their own cash to launch this site: publishing powerhouse Joni Evans, gossip columnist Liz Smith, advertising doyenne Mary Wells, politico Peggy Noonan and “60 Minutes’” Lesley Stahl. Current sponsors are Tiffany, Citigroup and Sony.

The vibe: For “the self-assured woman who is just a little too old to care what everybody thinks,” says Evans. Musings on everything from politics (Cynthia McFadden is covering both conventions) to style (Candice Bergen opines on why she no longer likes dressing up). Pithy and surprisingly candid posts from celebrity contributors.

Traffic: “We’re averaging around 300,000 a month,” says Evans of the 5-month-old site and its small but “extremely liberal” audience. A post from conservative fire-starter Ann Coulter elicited close to 1,000 comments last month.

New & noteworthy: An online book club launched this month with Judith Martin (aka “Miss Manners”) reading the classics. Plans include tie-ins with independent booksellers. Change the World vertical to be expanded with a stronger emphasis on celebrity philanthropy. Medicine Ball, a health vertical helmed by a yet-to-be-named female expert will launch by year’s end. Content now appearing on MSN.com, Yahoo and FoxNews.com.

The Verdict: Strangely addictive but will need some key strategic alliances to attract wider audience and thrive.

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