BabyCenter Gives Birth To New Personalized Site
Triggered by the January arrival of iVillage and AOL vet Tina Sharkey as chairman and global president, the redesign also adds full Web 2.0 functionality in the form of distributable content and the site's first "professional" blog--i.e., paid contributors--called Momformation.
The new design has been in beta since July with a sub-group of BabyCenter members, and was officially unveiled today. Parents of infants will now receive content relevant to that profile, as opposed to one for parents of toddlers. Families with more than one child will get relevant recommendations for each child.
Now 10 years old and having served more than 100 million families in that time, BabyCenter is an independently operating unit of Johnson & Johnson, and takes ads from all marketers targeting the audience. They include brands such as Clorox, Playskool, Beech-Nut, Baby Orajel, Tylenol and All Free Clear.
"From an interactive brand perspective, the verticals are going to win," says Sharkey. In addition to opportunities on the site, BabyCenter also handles CRM programs for advertisers who want to use email and other communications channels, Sharkey said.
Use of rich media will expand with the new site, and the 40,000-strong 21st Century Moms Panel will continue as a market research and sounding board.
Sharkey expects media to increase 50% this year, as the media team is rebuilt and a solutions focus is put in place.
On board to lead the expansion of the sales organization is Steven Friedman, the new vice president/publisher of BabyCenter network and affiliate sales. Friedman follows Sharkey from AOL and Weblogs, Inc., and will be instrumental in launching the BabyCenter's new affiliate blogging network from a sales perspective. Adverblogs will be part of the Momformation.com mix.
Reporting into L. Jasmine Kim, senior vice president and general manager of the media group at BabyCenter, he will work alongside Mary Jo Romeo, vice president of national sales.
The open source platform on which the redesign was built will be rolled out to all of BabyCenter's global sites, Sharkey said. It delivers content through both text links and elements such as tag clouds showing popular searches, galleries that showcase content from all parts of the site, and a new "Get Answers" area allowing users to post questions directly to the community. The company's ParentCenter.com, addressing the needs of families with older children, also got the makeover.
With roughly 4 million unique visitors per month, BabyCenter claims a 78% share of new and expectant moms online in the U.S. It also has country-specific sites in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, India, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K., and in Spanish for U.S. Hispanics.
Momformation.com will contain more than 10,000 pieces of original content that can be parsed into newsletters and other products. The new area will allow BabyCenter to address new subjects that do not follow the site's "stage centric" approach. These include fertility and adoption.
Momformation.com's formal launch will come in September with a handful of bloggers, and a goal of becoming a super site of blogs.
"We want to get a larger share of Mom's digital life online," Sharkey says.