TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Niche Web Networking Sites Chase MySpace Ad Dollars

Niche Web Networking Sites Chase MySpace Ad Dollars

Yinka Adegoke (
Wed, 19 Apr 2006 20:38:45 -0500

By Yinka Adegoke

Social networking online isn't just for hip twenty-year-olds any
longer, as a new wave of targeted Internet community sites build
business models to attract larger audiences and more advertisers.

The Internet will see a lot more targeted community launches in the
coming months, both from start-up companies and established media
businesses, rather than the general youth community sites that defined
the sector such as, or,
industry watchers say.

At least two new sites were unveiled this week. caters
to women over 21 while invites users to share jokes and
other funny material.

Like most social networking sites, both allow users to create and
share blogs, pictures and videos with friends and the wider public.

"You're going to see a lot of these kinds of sites in the next six to
nine months, both start-ups and major companies," said Andrew Frank,
an analyst at Gartner Research.

Frank said that sites such as Sisterwoman would offer advertisers
added value in reaching an audience that will be prepared to engage
with marketers.

The sector drew investor attention after News Corp. bought MySpace for
$580 million last July. In March, General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal
said it planned to buy women's online network iVillage for $600

Sisterwoman launched on Wednesday after signing on ahead of time four
major advertisers, including beauty-care line Neutrogena and cable
network The Learning Channel.

Sisterwoman is offering them the opportunity to sponsor services
around which users can share their own photos, videos or other links.

Founder Allie Savarino said advertisers were traditionally resistant
to two-way conversations with consumers, which opens the gates on both
positive feedback as well as criticism.

"Now they realize they have no way of increasing their market share
without it," Savarino told Reuters. "It is tied to the ownership that
consumers have of your brand."


Sisterwoman and Jokebox are the latest in a new line of community
sites hoping to build on the success of younger-skewing Internet
networks but attract mainstream advertisers looking for other

Jib-Jab Media, a company behind popular comic Internet films, also
unveiled this week a site allowing users to share jokes and funny
material. The company described, which featured a
prominent plug for Bud Light beer on its home page on Wednesday, as a
hybrid of MySpace and cable channel Comedy Central.

Sites aimed at adult consumers would appeal more to advertisers than
MySpace, despite the youth network's huge popularity, said Eric
Wheeler, chief executive of Internet media buyer Neo@Ogilvy North
America, a unit of WPP Group.

Advertisers are generally concerned over the commentary they may
receive online, and even more wary of the freewheeling discussions of
younger users.

"Anytime you move away from buying a placement (in the media) to
buying something that is live, it can get a little dicey for
advertisers," said Wheeler.

Adults are also more likely to recommend brands to each other on a
regular basis and may be more receptive to advertiser messages,
Savarino said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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