Yahoo Hopes To 'Shine' With New Women's Site

Acting on its oft-stated strategy to become the "starting point" for most consumers, Yahoo is focusing on a new audience: Women.

With the launch of Yahoo Shine today, the Web portal unveils a one-stop-shop lifestyles site aimed in particular at women ages 25 to 54.

The site is organized according to familiar categories including fashion and beauty, food, parenting and health. Each category takes the form of a blog featuring both professional and user contributions.

But the venture is far from a free-for-all. Serving as editor in chief is Brandon Holley, who joined Yahoo last year after holding the top editor posts at the now-defunct magazines Elle Girl and Jane. Her staff consists mainly of other magazine and Web veterans, who oversee each of the site's 10 content areas.

Yahoo Shine has also signed on a roster of high-profile publisher partners including Hearst, Rodale, Conde Nast, Time Inc. and Eating Well Media.

They represent titles including Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Prevention, InStyle, Glamour and Self, among others. In addition to articles, magazines will also provide video content and editors will contribute blog posts and launch original blogs on the site.

Shine will also draw on complementary Yahoo properties including food, health and astrology for content.

By fusing high-toned editorial content and social features with its enormous user base, Shine is intended to put lifestyles on par with key Yahoo anchors such as finance, news and sports some day. "This is the biggest launch for Yahoo Media in years," said Amy Iorio, vice president and general manager of Yahoo Lifestyles.

In targeting women, Yahoo is taking on a crowded field of new and established players. The top women's sites as of February were upstart Glam Media, with 29.1 million unique visitors, iVillage.com (16.2 million), AOL Living (15.4 million) and Everyday Health (14.1) million, according to comScore.

Ask.com is also reportedly planning to shift its focus from search to helping women get answers to questions on topics such as health, parenting and entertainment. So is there still room for another women's hub online?

"There's no reason why it can't be successful," said Sarah Fay, president, Isobar US, of Yahoo Shine. "It's all in the execution if they can provide content that's of interest to women."

She added that agency clients are eager to appeal to different segments of the women's audience online. "Women as a population are hugely active on the Internet and finding all kinds of ways to participate in communities, so I think it's still fairly early days," Fay said.

Yahoo has had few homegrown hits in recent years, losing out most notably in building a social networking property to rival the likes of MySpace and Facebook. Instead, Yahoo has gone on a buying spree in the last couple of years, snapping up Web 2.0 sites such as Flickr, del.icio.us and JumpCut.

Although developed in-house, Yahoo Shine will rely heavily on its content partners for help. Hearst, for instance, will provide 75 blog posts a week from editors and writers at various properties from Cosmopolitan to RealAge.com, along with seven video packages per month.

Rodale editors, meanwhile, will start a half dozen original blogs for the site. Among them: "Mystery of the Sexes," by Men's Health Editor in Chief David Zinczenko and "Is This Normal?," by Tina Johnson, top editor at Women's Health.

Yahoo did not disclose whether the content partnerships involved any kind of ad revenue-sharing arrangement. For the publishers, expanding their online audiences via Yahoo Shine is at least part of their motivation.

"Increasing the visibility of our blog content is a key element in driving additional traffic and converting passive readers into loyal fans," said Christopher Johnson, vice president of content and business development at Hearst Magazines Digital Media.

In keeping with the social media zeitgeist, the site will also invite users to create their own blogs and profile pages. And unlike sites with pink and pastel color schemes like Glam and iVillage, Shine doesn't scream "women's site!"

At launch, Yahoo will feature Shine on its home page and promote the site on its network and elsewhere on the Web.

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