With today’s relaunch of MarthaStewart.com, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) is banking on its matron and namesake to bring in the traffic.
MSLO will leverage its print and broadcast arms to both promote and seed the new site and its video-centric offerings, as rival iVillage has done with parent NBC Universal. With a total vaunted reach of 80 million individuals across its magazines, TV, radio, and online platforms, the company aims to build its online audience by brute mass media force. That force will come in the form of short promo spots and on-air call-outs from Martha herself (her mug appears far and wide on the new property) during “The Martha Stewart Show.”
“We’ve found users really want Martha. They want to see Martha, they want to hear from Martha,” said Holly Brown, president of Internet for MSLO.
Brown played up the company’s legacy of multimedia content, its main point of differentiation from iVillage and the slew of recipe-centric sites out there, save FoodNetwork.com. Among other audio and video components, MarthaStewart.com will offer full episodes of “The Martha Stewart Show” on a one-day delay.
“We have this incredibly rich library of multimedia content…video from the past 10 years,” said Brown. “We have 700 videos today available on the site, and we plan to continue growing that.” With video on the homepage and in each of the site’s channels, the company has prioritized packaging that content, as well as making it more discoverable via a new, search-driven design.
Launch advertisers include Dove, 3M, Oil of Olay, Allstate, Buitoni, GE, Garnier, HP, and Blue Buffalo. Pre-roll ad placements will consist mainly of :10 spots. “We will accept :15 and :30. That’s definitely not the user experience we’re trying for,” said Beth-Ann Eason, head of online ad sales.
Eason said the company will couple direct ad sales with custom microsites for advertisers. “Advertisers are not just interested in run of site advertising. They want prominent placement…and deep integration,” she said.
MSLO has steadily beefed up its online programming and operations staff, from 20 at the end of 2005 to about 60 today, recruiting from Yahoo, AOL, The Knot, Teen People and IAC/InterActiveCorp. Competitors are also aggressively hiring. Glam Media recently poached iVillage’s VP of Business Development Operations Jennifer Salant to spearhead its own partner programs; while iVillage hired and promoted several staffers this week. At iVillage, Juan Lopez-Valcarcel was named VP strategy; Betsy Alexander was put in charge of the iVillage/Today Show integration; Gregg Zegras was promoted to SVP of consumer health, iVillage; and Adam Wiener was bumped up to SVP for iVillage Media.
Martha Stewart said building out the revamped site’s community elements, currently limited to message boards, is a priority for the remainder of the year. While executives declined to share specifics about plans for social networking and sharing, they did say it will focus on knowledge sharing.
“We have a very passionate community offline, and we think that we can provide a platform online to not only connect with [our content], but connect with each other on their interests,” said Brown.
In addition to cross-promoting the site via its above-the-line properties, MSLO will rely on search marketing. To do so it’s working with search marketing firm Reprise Media and optimization specialist 360i.