Fox Acquires Beliefnet, Taps Faith Based Audience

News Corp’s Fox Entertainment Group acquired spiritual and religious media site Beliefnet yesterday to strengthen its faith-based content and bring a relatively untapped ad market into its fold. Beliefnet also will now use FIM’s new ad delivery platform.

The multi-denominational content site will become part of Fox Digital Media where it will join other News Corp.-owned faith-based publishing firms including HarperCollins’s Christian publisher Zondervan and HarperOne. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. In addition to accessing Beliefnet content, Fox acquired the site to expand its ability to provide targeted advertising to Beliefnet’s readers interested in faith-oriented topics, according to Dan Fawcett, president of digital media for Fox Entertainment Group.

“We think the segment is growing and there are endless opportunities to improve it on its own and in concert with content assets and other assets from Fox and News Corp.,” said Fawcett. “It’s a somewhat still untapped advertising market. It’s an audience that we can appeal to and need to do so in the correct ways. We view it an opportunistic segment for advertising.”

As part of the acquisition, Beliefnet is also partnering with Fox Interactive Media as the first non-FIM News Corp. property to use the FIM Serve targeted ad delivery platform. The platform incorporates technology from Strategic Data Corporation, acquired by FIM in February; it’s been deemed successful enough for use by FIM properties including MySpace and others, that News Corp. is making the platform available for its other Web properties.

“Any Web site that is part of the News Corp., family can benefit from it,” said Fawcett.

Along with its Web site, Beliefnet also distributes ad-supported daily e-mail newsletters to approximately 11 million subscribers, which it intends to continue to support, according to Steven Waldman, the newly-named editor-in-chief and president of Beliefnet.

Traditionally Beliefnet has appealed to the 35-to-45-year old women’s bracket, especially those who are household decision makers, as well as to people who have had a recent and significant life event. The site has seen particular interest from the pharmaceutical and entertainment industry advertisers, said Waldman.

“Because we’ve taken the multi-faith approach, we’ve become very attractive to advertisers wanting to reach this audience without endorsing a particular religion,” he said. “The whole entertainment industry has awakened to this spiritual sector. The studios and the TV stations started to view Beliefnet not only as an effective venue for faith movies, but also family movies and inspirational movies.”

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