Hearst Buys Realage.com, Bolsters Cross-Platform Ad Sales

Hearst has added Realage.com to its growing stable of digital properties, it announced Monday. The site engages consumers with the promise of a quiz that determines their "real age," based on various health and lifestyle factors. Hearst didn't disclose the price, but based on the site's annual revenues of $20 million, analysts speculate the company paid as much as $100 million.

In addition to the eponymous "real age" test, much discussed in the media, the site offers an encyclopedic array of health care information and advice broken down by categories, including age, gender and specific conditions. The test is a simple (if potentially terrifying) way to get users engaged with the site's resources, describing all the different aspects of good health--a health care and food marketers' smorgasbord.

Users can search the site by keyword, sorting search results by these criteria. Founded in 1999, the site now attracts about 2.1 million unique visitors a month.

Hearst isn't the only big magazine player to bolster its online health offerings through acquisitions.



In June, Meredith Corporation bought Healia.com, a consumer-health search engine. Meredith President Jack Griffin explained that the health "vertical search" reference site complements the personal health coverage in Meredith's biggest brands, like Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, American Baby, Ladies' Home Journal, More and Fitness. Meredith is integrating Healia's search technology into its various magazine Web sites.

In 2006, Conde Nast's Web division CondeNet purchased health and nutrition information site NutritionData.com. CondeNet President Sarah Chubb said features on NutritionData.com would be integrated with content from food Web site Epicurious.com--which houses Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines, and the sites for magazines like Self and Glamour.

In fact, print magazines are enjoying a health-related ad boom, due mostly to pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising. According to the most recent figures from the Publishers Information Bureau, ad pages for drugs and remedies increased 11% in the first half of 2007 compared to 2006.

Furthermore, these print ads work in tandem with the Internet. Per Cary Silvers, Rodale Publishing's director of consumer and advertising trends, more than half of the people who ask their doctor about a medicine after seeing a DTC ad continue to seek more information about the drug afterward--Internet research is the most popular follow-up.

Health care sites with a vertical search component are a good way to deliver targeted advertising, as they allow advertisers to bid on key search terms and subject headings. For magazine publishers, the acquisition of health-related sites provides opportunities for cross-platform ad sales.

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