NBC's iVillage Partners With BlogHer

Peter Naylor of NBC Universal's Digital Media SalesiVillage has entered a strategic partnership with BlogHer, which will give the NBC unit access to BlogHer's network of some 2200 women's blogs, along with promotional opportunities across its female audience.

The deal includes a $5 million series B investment, financed by Peacock Equity, the joint venture between NBC Universal and GE Commercial Finance's Media, Communications and Entertainment business, and returning investor Venrock, a venture capital firm.

As part of the arrangement, iVillage, Oxygen.com and BravoTV.com will feature select BlogHer content, while BlogHer's network is expected to return the favor to varying degrees.

With its online community of women, whose writing covers various lifestyle topics, BlogHer is "a hand and glove fit for iVillage," according to Peter Naylor, senior vice president of Digital Media Sales for NBC Universal.

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"We're going to work with them opportunistically to open up conversational marketing opportunities for advertisers," Naylor said. "That's what this is really about--the rise of conversational marketing."

While iViIlage has experienced 23 consecutive months of year-over-year growth in unique visitors, the network does face increased competition from a number of rivals. Chief among them is Glam Media, which has its market position through a similar network of partnerships with a large blog community.

Naylor openly concedes a connection between NBC's and Glam's efforts. "It's all part of the current zeitgeist of creating vertical ad networks," he said. "Glam has aggregated many sites."

NBC also announced the formation of a female-targeted digital ad sales network, as part of the overall strategy for Women@NBCU, the company's new content and marketing initiative geared to women. The sales network is now comprised of BravoTV.com, Oxygen.com, iVillage and Sugar Inc.

"In today's fragmented market, Women@NBCU digital is uniquely positioned to offer advertisers access to a wide range of women with one-stop-shopping," Naylor said.

With all the Women@NBCU digital properties included under the iVillage banner, advertisers can target the female demographic through a single ad buy, added Naylor.

In addition, the Women@NBCU and BlogHer sales forces will collaborate on joint advertising deals.

The partnership comes on the heels of Women@NBCU's first deal--a sponsorship across iVillage and "TODAY" customized exclusively for Wal-Mart.

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