About.com's Upgrades Drive Revenues, Traffic For NYT
Call it a slight case of the growing pains--as About.com has expanded since its acquisition by the Times in 2005--making acquisitions of its own (the info giant snapped up meta-product review site ConsumerSearch.com and health-review engine UCompareHealthCare.com this year), and adding nearly 200 new GuideSites to its roster.
The company employs over 600 industry experts to author, monitor and constantly maintain the topic-specific GuideSites, which also feature rich media and video content (powered by Brightcove). In addition, About.com recently made key hires to strengthen its sales force in the CPG and health verticals--nabbing former Reader's Digest associate director, integrated sales and marketing, Kim Huey Steiner, and Michael Frick, formerly of WebMD.
According to Scott Meyer, About.com's president and CEO, "being seen as a key advertising partner that can create custom, content-based experiences for leading brands" is the company's goal for the coming months.
Advertisers that choose to run campaigns on About.com will have no shortage of eyeballs, as the network had 36 million unique U.S. visitors in September. The company's pregnancy channel--an area complete with doctor-approved articles and user-generated content like forums and a "belly gallery," surpassed BabyCenter.com to take the number one spot in the pregnancy category, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. Meanwhile, About.com's Health site was the number two U.S. health destination on the Web in September.
Major brands like Target, Hanes and McDonald's have already launched custom campaigns on About.com--including user-generated activities, video and even category sponsorship. Meyer said that the company plans to take the success they've had with health (including the integration of the Calorie-Count.com weight-loss community) and better target both CPG consumers and advertisers.
Meyer added that investment from the Times Company enabled About.com to acquire assets, as well as build out its own search engine and ad inventory technology--tech which has been shared throughout the Times roster or properties.
About.com's operating profit and margins are expected to improve for Q4, as the operating costs (including costs from the $33 million acquisition of ConsumerSearch) are set to decrease, flanked by higher seasonal revenues.