For Marketers, Yahoo’s New Women’s Site Fails to Shine

As female focused online audience ventures pile up, it’s getting harder for site owners to differentiate these products — especially when they try to be all things to all people. Yahoo’s new entry in the category, called Shine, appears to have elicited a collective yawn from the marketing community.

The site, aimed at the 25- to 54-year-old women Yahoo refers to as “Chief Household Officers,” aggregates women’s content from around the Yahoo network and from an impressive list of content partners. Those include Hearst and CondÉ Nast properties like Cosmo, Glamour, Lucky, Style.com, Epicurious.com. Time Inc. and Rodale are also on board. Additionally, some content will be originally created by the site’s editorial staff and syndicated from bloggers.

Content will span nine categories, including Fashion & Beauty, Parenting, Food, “At Home” and Astrology. Crest Whitestrips is the first advertiser, and two more unnamed brands are about to start running ads — a home appliance seller and a beauty CPG company, a spokesperson said.

Yet the media opportunity didn’t thrill marketing executives reached by phone.

“For me it’s the same package wrapped up again,” said Andreas Roell, CEO of interactive agency Geary Interactive. “My interest would be to create new content and offerings around women. I’m not too excited about this.”

Greg March, associate media director at Wieden+Kennedy, voiced a similar view. “If you’re going to get into the content space you’ve got to be super targeted. You have to have a real voice, a real point of view,” he said. “Perez Hilton is salacious and scandalous, but it’s focused. This doesn’t feel focused.”

AKQA’s executive media director, Scott Symonds, said his team was pre-briefed by Yahoo, and he compared the new site to what he’s already encountered from iVillage and other “legacy” women’s properties.

“The initial stuff I’ve seen on Shine makes it feel like something we’ve seen before,” he said. “If you’re creating a media property now, it’s more interesting to say we’ve got something new rather than we’ve got more of the old.”

One of AKQA’s customers is Method Home, which like several of the agency’s clients tends to skew young. “We’re looking for a new slant on media that’s more conversational and more dynamic,” he said.

Of course, it may not matter that advertisers are bored by the launch at this early stage. If Yahoo succeeds in building audience, marketers will buy the ads. This is especially true since the breed of advertiser Yahoo appeals to tends more toward Sears than Bergdorf Goodman.

Ad products on Yahoo Shine will include IAB standard units and maybe some branded or sponsored content. Yahoo declined to comment in detail on the advertising strategy with Shine.

From an editorial standpoint, Shine’s mission is to treat women “holistically,” according to Amy Iorio, VP and GM of Yahoo Lifestyles, and not to appeal strictly to their identities as moms or as working women.

“You can only make so many niche products before you start to lose economies of scale,” she said.

But for AKQA’s Symonds, the lack of focus implicit in that philosophy is a negative. “I think we tend to add an extra layer of psychographics on top of that [female demographic targeting],” he said. “Is it parenting, motherhood, or urban baby? Is it conversations?”

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