Meredith Invests In Real Girls Media Network

real girls media websitePositioning itself as the premiere online destination for women ages 25-54, Meredith Corp. has made a minority investment in the Real Girls Media Network.

The San Francisco-based Real Girls Network is made up of about 30 female-focused communities and social networks, which will add about 3 million unique visitors to Meredith's existing stream of roughly 12 million unique visitors a month.

According to Lauren Wiener, SVP at Meredith Interactive, the depressed credit and venture capital markets are making it easier for publishers to expand their presence through investment and acquisition.

"This environment is creating more opportunities," said Wiener. "We're looking for additional acquisitions and we're not looking to slow down at all."

Meredith Interactive's growth strategy is not based entirely on investment and acquisition, however. Last month, the company announced plans to debut Mixing Bowl--a food-centric online community--later this month.

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Meredith and Real Girls said they plan to combine inventory and sales forces. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Real Girls Network includes DivineCaroline.com--which it fully owns and operates--as well as a network of branded sites for women, including CarTango.com, MomAdvice.com and BlissfullyDomestic.com.

Per the deal, Meredith is also getting Real Girls' proprietary social networking technology, which it plans to deploy across its other various Web properties.

The Real Girls Network was founded in 2006 by Kate Thorp, a Walden Ventures partner, and one-time president of interactive at San Francisco-based independent ad agency Akqa. Walden, along with venture firm 3i, helped get the network off the ground with $6 million back in 2006.

DivineCaroline.com is made up of user-generated and professional content broken down by channels like relationships, travel, and style.

Meredith faces intense competition from a number of publishers and publisher networks, targeting a broad swath of women online. The Glam Network constitutes over 40 million monthly uniques, which is made up of both women-tailored content and unisex fare from the likes of MyYearBook.com. Both iVillage and AOL Living, meanwhile, are both responsible for over 15 million monthly uniques.

This summer, iVillage entered into 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 included 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.

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