Advertisers Line Up To Reach Teens On Kiwibox

Lin Dai of KiwiboxFacebook had its Beacon troubles, and Google brass has admitted that they're having a hard time trying to help News Corp. wring money out of MySpace, but for Kiwibox, a teen-oriented social network and online magazine, monetization is not a problem.

The New York-based company, a division of Magnitude Information Systems, has advertisers like Kohl's and Tampax lining up to reach its more than 1.9 million members.

According to CEO Lin Dai, Kiwibox appeals to both teens and brands because the site offers more than the standard social networking features of profile creation, photo-sharing and friend cruising. The network boasts a weekly content production schedule, churning out original articles, photo spreads and videos created in part by its member base. Members earn KiwiPoints for their editorial content, which can then be redeemed for prizes like iPods and Nintendo Wiis.

"The content layer on top of the social network is what differentiates us," Dai said. "Every week, about 20,000 teens help us to produce a magazine around the issues they're interested in, and then it's pitched to advertisers in a format they're used to." With a set publishing schedule, the Kiwibox team can pre-pitch brands with regard to upcoming content. Kmart, for example, joined Kohl's and Tampax as sponsors of the two-week back-to-school issue, which is currently live.

In addition to display and rich media ads, Kiwibox also offers brands mobile access to its teen audience via a partnership with Burst Media, with enhanced content powered by Quattro Wireless. Dai said that the company is developing more tightly integrated online and mobile ad packages--with the goal of offering advertisers better CPM rates--in the fourth quarter and for the holidays. Kiwibox is also working on an ad-supported SMS-based service. "Teens will be able to subscribe to updates from their friends and for celebrity news, among other things, through a Kiwi short code," Dai said.

The site, which is in its ninth year of operation, has just revamped its interface. New features include profiles that are easier to customize, widgets that can distribute content across other social media sites like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube, as well as KiwiboxTV, and a dedicated video section. Kiwibox has also doubled the number of casual games available through KiwiGames--part of the company's push to attract more guys.

"Right now the split is about 80/20 girls-to-guys," Dai said. "We're stepping up a lot of our game content to help shift that to 60/40." He said that the games also were a big advertiser draw, as Disney and Fox skinned and sponsored games for "High School Musical" and "The Simpsons Movie," respectively. Kiwibox partners with a number of ad networks for its sales, although the company has a small in-house sales team.

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