The Web portal that made a catchphrase out of “you’ve got mail” is now looking for males, too.
AOL has launched a new website in partnership with BermanBraun intended to be an online destination for men. Mandatory.com went live late Wednesday with an editorial mix replete with grooming advice, humor videos and photo galleries of fetching females.
The website also includes a “below the line” section with racier content that doesn’t show enough skin to be quite rated R, but is risque enough not to include advertising. The rest of the site is launching with Gillette as the exclusive sponsor.
“We think the 18-44 male demographic is not served really well online at scale,” he said. “Thee are a lot of men’s properties on the Web but they’re blog-esque and have less original content. Mandatory was built in a differentiated fashion.”
Mandatory will be the first male-oriented perch online within AOL’s stable of brands since the closure of Asylum last year. Mandatory will likely be just the first AOL property that will be sold to advertisers looking for a male-centric buy, including some yet-to-be-revealed video assets coming in the second quarter of the year and websites under the company’s umbrella that already have a heavy male skew, including tech sites Techcrunch and Endgadget.
AOL already has a full complement of female-oriented sites such as Stylist.com, Makers.com and several sections within Huffington Post.
Armstrong projects Mandatory can reach 3.5 million to 4 million unique visitors out of the gate. By way of comparison, AskMen.com is currently reaching over 5 million, according to Comscore, while GQ and Esquire are both under 2 million.
Mandatory enters an already crowded field of websites catering to men, from IGN-owned AskMen.com to the digital extensions of macho magazines including GQ and Esquire. But BermanBraun is building up an impressive track record of launching websites for portals that are competitive with well-entrenched incumbents. Its celebrity gossip site in partnership with MSN, Wonderwall, has grown large enough to rival the likes of TMZ and Yahoo’s OMG. Another site with MSN targeting women, Glo, has also become a traffic draw in an equally crowded competitive set that includes Yahoo’s Shine.
Mandatory is one of three websites AOL and BermanBraun agreed last year to team up to launch. A second site for pet lovers already on AOL, PawNation, was quietly revamped earlier this month. A third one devoted to weather information, which will be launched from scratch like Mandatory, is expected to be ready in June.
It’s been a busy month for BermanBraun, which also just relaunched Tested.com, a website featuring the stars of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” the company took ownership of with the acquisition earlier this year of Whiskey Media. The firm also is launching a few YouTube channels in the coming weeks.
Mandatory will be overseen by Cory Jones, the founding Editor of Break Media’s HolyTaco.com and former editorial director of Maxim.com, who reports to BermanBraun digital topper Paco Vinoly.
The “below the line” section gives users a good idea of the scantily clad ladies to come by featuring an introductory page of a woman with the headlines to linked editorial features appearing as tattoos all over her body. “We wanted to create a place that seemed a little off the beaten track,” said Vinoly.
But Mandatory also has some high-brow features such as fiction from up-and-coming writers and a video series that teaches users how to become a “Renaissance man” by learning how to play the guitar or mastering wine-tasting.